Why AXN, Havas Media Group and Arena Media Spain decided to get serious about TV drama

The Serious Guys.

AXN, Havas Media Group and Arena Media Spain was commended for Best Branded Content Campaign at The Drum Content Awards 2019 for ‘Series-ously’. Here, the team behind the campaign reveals the challenges they faced and the strategies they used to produce this successful project.

The challenge

When it was initially launched, AXN (Action Extreme Network) was a traditional pay TV Channel, it presented various series, movies and shows with a precise schedule. Throughout the years, AXN evolved into a hybrid model: it’s still a pay tv channel, but now includes a Streaming service for its series (much like Netflix).

AXN needed to let the world know about its evolution, particularly younger viewers. Any campaign had to fulfill multiple objectives:

  • Marketing - maintaining and grow the AXN Customer base, attracting younger fans.
  • Brand – reinforce AXN’s positioning as ‘the Series Specialist’, increase word-of mouth recommendations.
  • Communications objectives - generate awareness/engagement and activate conversation around AXN, building a community around the brand.

The strategy

AXN was using the same old formula to promote their service: launching short term activations to promote the new series releases 4 or 5 times a year. Our strategy was based on differentiating AXN by moving away from an exclusively new release-based communication, away from a sales activation strategy with the sole objective to drive immediate financial impact.

We did not want to eliminate short-term activations entirely, but rather provide an equilibrium with a long-term brand building strategy that would allow us develop memory structures and powerful associations for the brand. We wanted to create brand preference through the creation of emotional associations that would last in time.

We would achieve this by being known as the ’House of the Series’, not just new series that come and go, but of all series. The place where all series lovers come to find their favourite series, no matter how long ago it was released.

We also came up with one important insight to help us in this task: all AXN’s series are fictional stories, but none are sci-fi. In other words, AXN is the only channel that consistently presents situations that could very well happen in real life.

With this in mind, we developed a branded content campaign called ‘Los Seriotes de AXN’ or The AXN Series-Ous Dudes. A program that talked about the series on AXN, but not really… confused?

The campaign

Here’s the twist: the famous 'SWAT' series is awesome, but what if our program invited a real SWAT member to come and talk about their real-life experiences? ’The Good Doctor’ series captivates us, but what if we had a real surgeon come in and tell us why a brain surgery smells just like a BBQ? What about ‘Harrow’? All the forensic action to find the murderers is awesome, but what if we had a real-life forensic anthropologist that happened to study Christopher Columbus’s bones come in and chat with us?

We selected an award-winning Spanish journalist and bestselling author along with well-known Spanish comedian, together they became 'The AXN Series-Ous Dudes’ our show presenters.

We took the decision to broadcast the program outside of the AXN universe and produced 18 shows with a duration of 25 minutes each. These shows where broadcasted on YouTube every week for 4 months.

YouTube allowed us to get maximum reach, impressions and interactions. We also threw Twitter , Instagram and Facebook in the mix to maximise our reach and get some conversations going, sharing and word of mouth action.

The results

We produced a total of 18 shows with each lasting 25m. In order to evaluate the results of the campaign, we hired an independent consulting firm to measure the success.

We made audiences more aware of AXN’s content thanks to the 26M Impressions, 2,5M views and 1,8M interactions. Our content garnered 6M minutes of views and our TV audience figures went up by 216%. We delivered a 13% growth in likeability and we were happy to find out that our branded content was being consumed by an audience that was much younger than what AXN was used to attracting, (16 years younger on average).

A final welcome endorsement came from the client itself - when AXN witnessed the success of our YouTube content series, they decided to broadcast it on the channel.

This campaign was commended in The Drum Content Awards 2019. If you think you can do better, register your interest in next year's awards.

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