An interview with AMC's SVP of Marketing Gina Hughes on Fear The Walking Dead

AMC has had a huge summer with the launch of their new show, Fear The Walking Dead the prequel and sister show to The Walking Dead made cable TV history. The 90 minute premiere had "10.1 million live/same day viewers" and became "the #1 series premiere in cable television history for total viewers and all key demos." The penultimate epsiode will air tonight at 9pm ET/PT.

AMC no doubt launched this second Dead show because of the huge fan base that The Walking Dead has accumulated. On Facebook alone the show has over 32 million followers. AMC had to be very careful in their marketing leading up to the show not to alienate fans who loved the genre but guarantee they would tune in and love both shows which it looks like they are so far. Found Remote interviewed AMC SVP of Marketing Gina Hughes about the digital activations around Fear The Walking Dead and what led to the massive global launch.

Found Remote: What are some of the highlights of the digital and social efforts?

Gina Hughes: In the months leading up to the launch of Fear the Walking Dead, we wanted to make sure we were building buzz and excitement leading into the premiere. We focused on providing sampling opportunities for fans and an extensive tease campaign, and built on the momentum that was sparked around San Diego Comic Con, where we released the first trailer. The Comic Con trailer ushered in the piece of the campaign that revealed and shared with fans the larger story.

Closer to premiere, we released the first 3 minutes of Fear the Walking Dead across social media and other AMC channels worldwide on Thursday, August 20th. The opening scene ended with the never-seen-before title sequence and drove a lot of excitement and anticipation in the days leading up to the Sunday, August 23rd premiere.

Day of premiere, we implemented a fan-centric stunt – we solicited photos from fans using the hashtag #Spread theFear and injected a bit of fear by adding an infected figure to their personal moment and tweeting back a custom and collectible image.

We also launched Fear the Walking Dead Story Sync, which gives fans a great second-screen experience and lets them interact with the show while it’s on air.

These are just a few examples of our efforts across digital and social media. It’s been fantastic to see fans engaging with the series across all of our platforms.

FR: How have you been tapping into TWD fan base while also trying to appeal to new fans that might not watch TWD?

GH: Our marketing objective was to engage fans and superfans of The Walking Dead to be Fear the Walking Dead ambassadors, as well as capture new viewers who may feel they missed the TWD boat. It’s been important to all of us that this show be distinct from the original and stand on its own. We take very seriously the responsibility of creating a companion series to TWD.

In Fear, the world is JUST beginning to fall apart. This new entry point and difference in timing allow us to explore everything before the fall of civilization and build upon the tension of chaos and the unknown throughout the season. For fans familiar with TWD, Fear explores an interesting period during the apocalypse – when Rick was in a coma.

FR: What partners and platforms are you working with for Fear?

GH: We worked with Google to run “faux news articles” across the Google Display Network. We paired attention-grabbing headlines with four teaser videos for Fear the Walking Dead – they tapped into the tension and chaos of what happens in the show, and also led users to watch the series’ full trailer and/or visit our social pages.

FR: What's been successful so far and what KPIs will you be looking for?

Fear the Walking Dead debuted as the #1 series premiere in cable history, and has drawn a consistent and impressive audience in its first season. It has also been driving a lot of social conversation.

FR: How can social media be used to prevent a zombie apocalypse?

GH: Social media is definitely a powerful tool, but it’s hard to say how it could prevent a zombie apocalypse! However, in the event of an outbreak, as Elizabeth Rodriguez (who plays Liza Ortiz) says: Never, ever tweet your location or take selfies with the infected.

FR: Fear was simulcast around the globe. How has that affected the digital/social strategy?

GH:Fear the Walking Dead was a day-and-date launch across our AMC Global channels, so it’s been great to see viewers everywhere fueling the social conversation around the series. We’ve worked closely with our counterparts on the AMC Global team to align our digital and social strategies and really serve our audiences around the world.

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