If someone at SXSW tries to convince you that the apocalypse is happening on May 31, don’t fret—yet. What could easily be written off as a case of Austin weirdness is likely part of an elaborate activation by Amazon Prime Video to promote its upcoming Neil Gaiman show, Good Omens, based on the 1990 book he penned with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.
The company will not only take over a 19,000-square-foot space to create an immersive experience that it is calling the Good Omens’ Garden of Earthly Delights, but it will also have pop-ups throughout SXSW that mirror the daily signs in the show that the apocalypse is, in fact, coming soon. Those signs will include “angels, chattering nuns, demons and witchfinders” as well as a “penultimate motorcycle ride of the Four Apocalyptic Horsemen and their masses of loyal followers at noon on Friday, March 8.” The point is not only to drive awareness of the apocalypse and the show but to get attendees to visit the experience.
“You know the apocalypse is coming, right? It’s going to be on May 31,” said Mike Benson, head of marketing, Amazon Studios, tongue-in-cheek, as the company plans to debut Good Omens on May 31. “It might not be common knowledge, but that’s the whole reason for the show being made, and we understand that there is going to be some sort of apocalyptic event in SXSW so we figured what better place to help people either celebrate or escape?”
From March 8–11 at 604 Driskill Street, SXSW attendees can enter the activation and, per Benson, “party before the end of the world.” After being greeted by angels and demons—to pay homage to the show’s two main characters, an angel (Aziraphale, played by Michael Sheen) and a demon (Crowley, played by David Tennant)—festivalgoers will see an elaborate 20-foot hand-carved tree that will have beer and wine taps in it as well as “prophetic apples.” Food from Austin-based restaurants, including sushi and barbecue, will also be available.
The activation will have more than food and drink, though. Attendees will be able to hang out in lounges—the activation is supposed to be an “oasis from the non-stop hustle and bustle of SXSW,” noted Dan Mannix, CEO of CSM in North America and founder of LeadDog Marketing Group, the shop behind the activation—get manicures, hand massages and their hair done.
A pop-up of a bookshop from the book, A.Z. Fell & Co., will also be there with “hidden surprises for lucky Good Omens fans,” according to the company. Adoptable local puppies from the Austin Animal Center will also be featured in a portion of the activation called A Hellhound Puppy Pen.
“I would venture to say this is our largest outing ever and certainly, I’d say, our most adventurous,” said Benson.
There will be 70 actors onsite in “costume decrying around SXSW that the apocalypse is real and telling people to prepare themselves,” noted Mannix. The team expects roughly 7,000 people to pass through the space over the course of four days. There will also be two parties in the space, one in partnership with Entertainment Weekly and one in partnership with BuzzFeed.
Entertainment within the space will include “magicians, sword swallowers, fire breathers, tarot card readers,” a Queen cover band and more, according to the company. Amazon is looking not only to raise awareness about the show but to give people a memorable experience that feels true to its tone.
“Of course, we want people to take Instagram photos, but we also want people to go in and experience the show and feel like they’ve done something that adds some value to their life, not just to become a marketing tool for us,” said Benson.