The Americans revolves around the lives of two Cold War-era KGB spies who are trying to keep their jobs a secret from their unsuspecting neighbors. In line with that secrecy theme, the FX drama worked with Whisper to create more than 45,000 pieces of branded content using real covert revelations and show images.
The partnership is one of Whisper's ad offerings, which allows marketers to get their pictures on user content. The Whisper team comes up with keywords based on brand-suggested themes, like espionage and family in the case of The Americans. Then, when people submit their secrets using those phrases, the Whisper platform suggests images from the marketer to pair with their divulgement.
"It's extremely a native part of the experience," said Whisper director of business development Jay Rockman.
Whisper only runs one of these campaigns at a time, and previously has worked with MTV (for its show Virgin Territory), Hulu (Deadbeat), Universal (Endless Love) and Paramount(Men, Women & Children). The campaign for The Americans, which ran from Jan 12 through the third season premiere on Jan. 28, garnered the most impressions by far since the program launched in early 2014.
Google Adwords, which allows brands to target users who signal intent to buy certain products based the keywords they enter, inspired the concept, according to Rockman. In a similar vein, Whisper's ad product allows brands to find people when they are feeling a certain sentiment, and then lets them drive their message home with a marketer's image. What's more, the secrets can be shared on other platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
"Because the targeting is very native and tens of thousands of Whispers are dispersed, a ton of people discover them much like a tweet," Rockman said. "They can also be distributed and shared off our platform to live a life beyond Whisper."