Channel 4 promotes 'Humans' with elaborate multi-platform marketing stunt.
To get fans excited for the October season two premiere of the science fiction drama "Humans", Channel 4 launched an elaborate marketing campaign that issued a product safety recall for malfunctioning 'Synths', the series' life-like humanoids. The promotional campaign was run both offline and online and refers to a plot line of season one, in which several Synths revolt against their human owners.
PRODUCT RECALL! Our Synthetic Humans are experiencing minor technical difficulties. For your own safety it is vital you watch this video. pic.twitter.com/6w0d1zaPcF
— Persona Synthetics (@PersonaSynth) September 24, 2016
On September 23rd, 2016, Channel 4 ran a print ad stunt in newspapers across the UK. In the ad, Persona Synthetics, the fictional company behind the Synths, claims that some have experienced technical difficulties and that owners should not reset them and avoid confronting malfunctioning ones. To receive more information, readers are called upon to head to a new section on the previously launched Persona Synthetics website. On the site, users can find an embedded video, which elaborates on the product safety recall. The website features a section where users can access additional information on returning a Synth. Return labels in form of PDF files can also be found. Users can also request a Synth collection agent by entering their postal code in a designated field. However, they receive the message that there are no agents available due to an unusually high level of requests. One of the most interesting parts of the product recall campaign is the opportunity to chat with a technical support Synth. Users are being redirected towards a Facebook Messenger chat with a chat bot that first conducts a Q&A with the user. After a while, however, the Synth starts behaving weird and malfunctioning himself.
Hi @coffertron Please visit https://t.co/YVUPY8VMEv for information on how to return your faulty Synthetic Human. — Persona Synthetics (@PersonaSynth) September 27, 2016
Spreading the campaign to even more platforms, the social media accounts of the fictional company Persona Synthetics pointed out that people who bought their Synths via eBay should head to the product recall site for more information. The specially set up faux eBay shop of Persona Synthetics also features information about the safety issues and eventually directs to the actual website.
If you bought your Synth via eBay and are experiencing issues, please check our page for returns information https://t.co/3InfZMG56ipic.twitter.com/sdebEuPkK9 — Persona Synthetics (@PersonaSynth) September 27, 2016
Another part of the marketing stunt is an interview between the fictional chief communications officer of Persona Synthetics and the actual editor-in-chief of the New Scientist. In the video, which was uploaded onto the New Scientist's YouTube channel, the spokesperson can be seen storming out of the interview after being questioned about the Synths' security issues. To expand the campaign to the outside, several 'Synthetic Human Collection Service' trucks have been sent to numerous cities across the UK.
Matthias Puschmann is the Managing Director and Cofounder of VAST MEDIA, a media research and consulting company based in Berlin that provides international television industry leaders with qualitative competitive market analysis of digital entertainment and content marketing.