How mountainous marketing is helping Paramount+ scale in the UK
The latest entrant to the streaming market, Paramount+, launches in the UK on June 22. Its chief marketing officer Anna Priest has the challenge of convincing pressed Brits to cough up for one more service. To cut through, Priest has put the iconic Paramount mountains at the “epicenter” of her campaign.
“When you hear the dudada [sings the Paramount music] and see the stars going over the mountain, anyone you play that to, it makes them think that a memorable moment will follow,” she says.
Early consumer research showed that Paramount has strong brand equity in the UK. “There is enormous awareness and love for the Paramount brand,” Priest says. “But how do we unleash the power of our content to the British public?” It had to be through the mountain, she explains.
Its 60-second launch TV spot featuring Uma Thurman and Jack Whitehall makes the mountain the star. The ad takes audiences inside the mountain to a fictional world packed full of Paramount IP.
Paramount+ in the UK brings under one roof programming from Channel 5, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures, as well as Showtime and CBS. Paramount’s streaming offer is priced at £6.99 per month – in line with Netflix but just undercutting Disney+’s £7.99 a month service.
Paramount (formerly ViacomCBS) is coming to market at a time when consumers seem eager for ad-funded services and a growing number of Brits are canceling their subscription deals. To stand out from the crowd, Paramount+ is marketing itself as a broad, value proposition. “We are variety and value for everybody,” Priest says.
Paramount+ is kicking off with a mass campaign promoting all its content rather than taking on the tried-and-tested streamer launch strategy of homing in on a specific show audience. “We are not pegging to specific shows – we are going out with the fact we’ve got an enormous raft of stars and they are across a whole range of shows,” Priest says. “It really is a broad message at launch.”
Priest has two key branding problems to overcome in her marketing strategy. The first is to land the message that Paramount+ is more than movies. Paramount Pictures counts Top Gun, The Godfather and Star Trek among its titles, but alongside those Paramount+ will host original shows including Halo, The Good Fight and Star Trek Picard. “The Paramount brand is known for movies, so we need to stretch that and make people understand it is more than that,” Priest says.
Most UK consumers have no idea that Paramount owns the likes of Showtime and CBS, so nailing that message is crucial. “It’s about making people understand that a lot of the shows people know and love are ours and they belong to us,” she adds.
The second brand challenge is to prove Paramount+ is relevant to British viewers. “We don’t want people to think it’s just American content,” Priest says. Upcoming C5 original dramas including modern romcom Flatshare and period drama A Gentleman in Moscow will be a big draw for UK audiences, Priest says, along with British-set true crime docs.
Paramount+ goes big on experiential
Priest has gone big on experiential and out-of-home (OOH) marketing to launch the streamer.
To bring the “heart of Hollywood to the heart of London,” the campaign kicks off in London’s West End on Monday June 20. Paramount+ will have a pop-up space in Piccadilly filled with replica sets, memorabilia and stunt experiences, alongside a Halo installation and a 3D anamorphic display. Leicester Square will be renamed ‘Leicester SquarePants’ and a digital version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame will be projected on to the streets. “We want to descend on the entertainment district of London,” Priest says.
“We want to allow people to come in and feel and see and take selfies,” she says. “It’s a strategy that enables people to interact with our content.”
In conjunction with its experiential activations, Paramount+ has invited “super fan” influencers along to immerse themselves in the content and spread the word.
Alongside its TV spot and OOH activations, Paramount has taken newspaper wraps and digital homepage takeovers, tied with Global for radio ads and will be tapping into fandoms by showing up at Comic-Con.
To execute the campaign, Paramount worked with social media agency Glass Eye, creative agency New Commercial Arts (NCA), New Stance for its influencer marketing, Premier PR and media agency Wavemaker.
Elsewhere, Priest talks up the benefits of performance marketing. “It works extremely well for us. There is a massive campaign that goes on under the radar that you don’t see in the same big way.”
To amplify the campaign, Paramount will leverage the UK channels in its portfolio, running ads on Channel 5, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, as well as the streaming services My5 and Pluto TV.
“My department spans PR, social, marketing, media planning and creative, and it has been a communal effort to bring together this mountain of entertainment,” she concludes. “We are all exhausted but hugely excited about what we are unleashing on the British public.”