HBO Max’s Wild Marketing Ride; Brands Celebrate Earth Day; Thursday’s First Things First

Plus, Burger King's QR code stunt

Headshot of Jess Zafarris

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HBO Max Unveils a Condensed Marketing Push Ahead of Its May 27 Debut

On Tuesday, WarnerMedia revealed that HBO Max will debut on May 27. Given the intense ongoing streaming wars—Netflix scored the latest salvo with 15.7 million new subscribers—the company planned to roll out a massive three-month marketing blitz to win binge-watchers over. Those plans were quickly foiled, and like so many marketers who had to revamp campaigns on the fly, the company quickly adapted its marketing ahead of HBO Max’s debut. Here’s a few ways it adjusted:

  • The company had to retest all of its marketing to determine what was still OK to run.
  • It condensed a three-month campaign into a month.
  • It shifted its focus on which shows to promote because of production issues.

Read more: Streaming editor Kelsey Sutton has more on WarnerMedia’s wild ride to re-engineer its marketing for HBO Max.

Related: Buyers Expect Staggered Upfronts Marketplace as TV Ad Forecast Remains Murky

With no clear picture of when the economy may be able to bounce back or when it will be safe for Americans to stop sheltering in place, advertisers are not in a position to talk about upfronts. While some are advocating for a switch to a calendar-year upfront, buyers said a staggered approach is more likely, depending on when a particular company is ready to go to market. One big question mark? Whether live sports will be back this year, especially in Q4.

Read more: Advertisers do have to make a decision on their third-quarter options, with the May 1 deadline just a week away.

Also in TV and streaming news:

7 Brands Offering Free Creative Tools During the Pandemic

Brands are offering new and extended free trials of their creative software, free online classes and projects for people to express themselves creatively or simply pass the time. Brands such as Apple, Slack, Adobe and Skillshare are offering free access to their programs during quarantine.

Read more: Plus, in a move more targeted at businesses, Slack is offering free access to its paid plan for three months.

5 Quack Covid-19 ‘Cures’ That Have Been Busted by the Feds

While research teams around the world race to develop a vaccine, the internet has been awash in scores of products that, their promoters claim, can prevent people from contracting the virus or cure them if they think they have it. These products come despite public health authorities, including the CDC, having stated that there are no drugs or therapies that will cure Covid-19.

Read more: Here are a few of the more colorful—and potentially dangerous—”treatments” that have appeared in recent weeks.

How Brands Commemorated Earth Day 2020

Festivities for Mother Nature’s birthday looked a bit different from other years, moving online in many cases. But brands committed to sustainability or with long-standing green histories are still getting in on the digital action. We rounded up a few of the most ingenious and notable Earth Day commemorations from brands including campaigns by Hyundai, Snapchat SodaStream and more.

Read more: Lego and NASA even teamed up, challenging their social media followers to build a planet.

Industry Leaders Weighed in on Sustainability for Earth Day

“Working for our future is the job of every single person. It means the survival of our planet, and it requires marketers to not stand idly by and peddle products that have no substantive benefit for our planet.” — Ben Lamm, co-founder and chairman of Hypergiant

“Connect the work of climate science and scientists to your messages as a strategic communicator. The best way to honor the planet is to understand the science that governs it.” — Deb Morrison, distinguished professor of advertising and director of the advertising program at the University of Oregon

“This is an opportunity to set the narrative about your business. Talk about your tangible future commitments, tell a story about what you are already doing to help the environment and explore the ways the environment connects to your brand.” — Rigel Cable, associate director of data analytics and search engine optimization at Astound Commerce

Burger King Will Give You a Free Whopper If You Catch Its Moving QR Code on TV

Burger King certainly has no shortage of ideas right now, from the “Stay Home of the Whopper Campaign” to making students answer questions for free Whoppers, as well as these censored Whoppers. Fernando Machado is certainly staying busy. The latest stunt is a QR code, you know the ones marketers thought were the next best thing until no one knew how to use them. Now, they’re super easy to use (marketers were clearly a half decade too early on these things). In a series of TV spots, if you can capture one of these QR codes as they air, you could win one of 10,000 free Whoppers.

Watch it: See the YouTube version of the ad (spoiler: you can’t win anything from the online version).

More of Today’s Top News and Highlights

Ad of the Day: 

This German Ad Is One of the First Truly Funny Marketing Moments of the Covid-19 Era

As shoppers around the world experience the strange sensation of waiting patiently for a chance to shop for essentials, German pharmacy chain Rossmann created a fun, fantastic way of looking at it.


More of the Latest


@JessZafarris jessica.farris@adweek.com Jess Zafarris (née Jessica Farris) is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.