Max Pulls Out Promotional Pauses As Warner Bros. Discovery To Make Streaming Look More Flat – Deadline

The last time parent company Warner Bros. and HBO promoted the launch of its streaming service, it faced the once-in-a-century challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.

HBO Max debuted in May 2020 — the latest of five new multi-billion-dollar streaming entrants to hit the market in a seven-month period — but grand plans for a boost via TV, buses, and billboards were dashed by shelter-in-place real-time. Today, nearly three years later, HBO Max accounts for the majority of Warner Bros Discovery’s 96.1 million subscribers, and it’s earned a place at streaming’s highest echelon. After a press event last week that highlighted strategic initiatives and programming, the marketing push toward Max’s May 23 debut is gathering steam.

“It’s very rare that you get the chance to make a second first impression,” said Pato Spagnolito, Director of Worldwide Marketing for WBD Streaming in a press release. In an interview with Deadline, the executive said the campaign has two primary phases. Number one is joking – “What is that thing?” I’ve never heard of this before. So it’s just about trying to get people’s attention.” “When we get close to launch, intent is something that a lot of brands forget to do, especially in our space. That is, to build a little more emotional connection with the brand. Not the content – the content is amazing in itself and is getting heavier by the day. But if we’re going to win as a brand, we’re going to make people fall in love with the brand as much as they love the content.” Adding to this mission is the fact that Max’s debut isn’t like launching from scratch. “This isn’t really a launch campaign, it’s something we can come back to over and over again. And over and over again, including our motto, ‘A must watch’.

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When asked about the cost of the campaign, he refused to provide a specific figure, but confirmed that it is the largest in the company’s history. In addition to paid media and organic media, WBD Networks will all join a synergistic push in the coming weeks, along with buys of national television, digital, social media, and outdoor media (such as ordered billboards on Sunset Boulevard). “We’ll finish all over,” said Spagnoleto. “It’s a complete 360.”

Spagnoletto said the decision to change the color scheme from purple to blue — even though a number of other apps already use blue — was “part of a signal to change the service.” He noted that the color is also associated with existing brands such as Warner Bros. The exec added that Prime Video, Paramount+, and Disney+ are “all different shades of blue” compared to the Max. “We looked at it alongside everything out there, and even though it’s technically blue, it feels very distinct” in a connected device, smart TV, or mobile environment where standing out visually is key.

While some Discovery+ programming is also available on the Max, consumers will still be able to subscribe to Discovery+ as a standalone after WBD backed away from plans to fully merge the services upon discovering price resistance among some die-hard Discovery fans. But the cheaper Discovery+ tier, however, is half the price of the most affordable Max tier, so while Discovery+ is profitable and steady, converting subscribers to the Max remains a priority. As for how the overall marketing campaign will try to nudge consumers toward the higher choice, Spagnoletto said it’s “more of a carrot strategy than a stick strategy.”

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