TV Upfronts

WBD Launches Comprehensive Social Campaign Ahead of Max Debut

There will be a Twitter push, influencer partnerships, AR filters, TikTok ads and more

With less than a day to go until Warner Bros. Discovery launches Max—the new streaming service combining HBO Max and Discovery+ content—the company unveiled a comprehensive social marketing strategy headlined by Jason Momoa and Issa Rae.

For launch day on May 23, all HBO Max brand social and audience handles will become Max. With a reach of more than 16 million followers across platforms, the social brand team wanted to ensure that audience recognized the new combined content platforms and draw wider reach.

“The organic social campaign to support the launch of Max is as far-reaching and varied as the audiences that we’re going to have on Max,” Jason Mulderig, svp of brand marketing at HBO and Max, told Adweek.

Mulderig said the campaign will take advantage of a “triple threat of social,” pointing to brands like Food Network and HBO, franchises like Game of Thrones and 90 Day Fiancé, and audiences profiles like Scene in Black and Pa’lante.

“Our goal is to reach those audiences in-feed from brands they touch and create that connection to Max, and I think that’s really the most authentic way to go about doing it,” Mulderig said.

Vast brand support

Twitter handles for WBD’s networks will have a unique asset for Max’s launch, which will highlight the brand’s highest-profile titles. Those include brands like Food Network, TBS, TLC, Animal Planet, Magnolia Network and more.

On the IP side, WBD developed creative to showcase Warner Bros. Pictures, The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Sex and the City, Gossip Girl and DC Comics, among other properties.

“It’s very likely that our audience follows multiple feeds from brands and from shows, so those experiences in-feed from brands they trust, they’ll start to have impressions from Max all across the ecosystem,” Mulderig said.

The company will continue its existing One to Watch campaign and also further the To Be Continued campaign.

Max also partnered with more than 100 influencers that the company said reached over 270 million people, but is prioritizing authenticity over scale.

“It’s a similar strategy,” Mulderig said, noting how influencers create authentic content for their followers. “Create content that’s right for your audience.”

Strength of video

WBD has seen “incredible performance” on video across TikTok and Instagram Reels, and will also be promoting Max on Instagram Stories.

“We’re taking advantage of pretty much any meaningful engagement that we can create on those platforms, and use those tools that we have,” said Mulderig.

There will be AR filters on TikTok, Snap and Instagram, which will have paid, influencer and talent support.

TikTok will also have an interactive branded effect for Max, and there will be interactive tap-to-reveal advertisements for And Just Like That.

Content will also be tailored for different platforms, as Mulderig noted that some perform better from a video versus a static perspective.

“We’re using all of those features that those social platforms provide in the most native way that we can,” said Mulderig.

Momoa and Rae are the faces of the campaign, but WBD will also leverage other talent, including Chip and Joanna Gaines, Guy Fieri and animated characters such as Bugs Bunny.

Last week during WBD’s upfront presentation, the company announced Momoa as this year’s host of Shark Week, which Mulderig said is a good example of the wide variety of content that appeals to Max’s audience, noting that Aquaman and Shark Week can be found on the streaming platform.

The Max team isn’t new to creating viral content that takes off organically, considering the viral Negroni Sbagliato clip from last fall featuring House of the Dragon stars Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke.

“We built the foundation for the Negroni video the year before when we started to specialize the teams around very specific verticals: publishing, analytics and a vertical that does lenses and influencer management, and of course we have a creative editorial function,” said Mulderig. “For something like Negroni, we started to see the more casual, caught moments perform.”

Max has also found success on social with IP such as Succession (4.2 million organic TikTok impressions), the House of the Dragon TikTok branded effect (98.2 million impressions) and Euphoria’s Instagram filter (1 million impressions).

The social rollout first began last month during WBD’s streaming day, but prepare for an “inflection point” for Tuesday’s launch, with more to come.

“It’s the start of the Max conversation with the audience, and we will continue to evolve and push the brand voice,” Mulderig said.

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