How Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Built Buzz on Campuses (and Almost Broke a World Record)

Paramount partnered with team behind Uproxx, BroBible

To get college students pumped for Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Paramount and digital agency Woven decided the best way to highlight the movie's ludicrous premise was to bring it to life. While they couldn't invent a time machine, they did the next logical thing: try to create the world's largest hot tub.

To build buzz, Woven—which also owns digital publications Uproxx and BroBible—helped create a campaign that spanned online content, social media and offline activations.

"It was something that was more interesting than (traditional) media that hit our audience in a more interesting way," Paramount Pictures svp of interactive marketing Megan Wahtera said. "It was way more meaningful to them than just having an event."

Paramount and Woven asked readers of BroBible, theChive and The Roosevelts—which all skew male millennial—to submit party photos either through or the hashtag #hottubtimemachine2party. The prize? Someone would win four VIP tickets to the world's largest hot tub party—and one university would get to host the cesspool … er, festivities. 

Three schools—University of Nevada, Las Vegas; University of California, Los Angeles; and University of Southern California—were selected as finalists. Readers were then asked to vote for their favorite school, through a foul-language-filled video featuring the cast of the movie. Ultimately, Nevada won the honor.

"Luckily a warm-weather-climate school won," Wahtera noted.

Woven and Paramount constructed the gigantic hot tub on campus, and hosted a party on Feb. 12. Unfortunately, they could only convince at little under 200 people to marinate together in the tub, partially due to the fact that it was very cold. They needed at least 201 participants to beat the Guinness World Record.

In addition, Woven produced native articles that ran across BroBible, theChive and The Roosevelts. Articles included 10 Movie Time Travelers We'd Select If We Were Going Back In Time and 30 Photos of Hot Tubs So Awesome They MIGHT Be Time Machines.

Wahtera said the movie company was interested in the 360-degree mix of digital and real-world activations because it felt the program was more engaging in terms of interactions and time spent compared to just running something on traditional media. She said it was one of Woven's most successful programs to date, with submission numbers almost equal to the number of voting participants.

"When you think of Hot Tub Time Machine 2, this presents it in a good way," she said. "The [movie's] premise is that you travel in time in a hot tub. It's different. It's irreverent. This fits right there."