PHD Hails ‘Rome’ DVD in N.Y., L.A.

NEW YORK Roman legions invaded the streets of New York Tuesday as part of a buzz marketing campaign designed to stir interest in the newly released DVD of season one of the HBO series Rome.

Created by Omnicom Group’s PHD, the push mixes traditional and nontraditional media.

Some 50 actors dressed as Roman soldiers delivered copies of the DVD to retail stores including Circuit City, Tower Records and Virgin.

The effort uses a “Welcome to Rome” theme, which was included on 3-D billboards stationed at entry points to both New York and Los Angeles. Similarly themed messages were posted at bus and train stations in the two cities.

According to Liz Forber, the PHD account leader on HBO, the soldiers were designed to “capture the majesty of the series and bring it to the streets of New York City and to get people talking about [it].”

Online ads, at sites such as iFilm, feature severed heads and bloody daggers, along with the line, “Give a head to a friend.” Clicking on the image takes visitors to Amazon.com, where they can buy the DVD for $99.98.

Traditional TV ads on local broadcast and cable networks are also being used in a two-week flight, along with a print component in national magazines.

HBO spent $100 million in producing season one of the series, which debuted a year ago, employing elaborate sets that were built on location in Rome. Season two is now in production and set to premiere in March 2007.