Promo for HBO's 'Boxing After Dark' lands all the right punches

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Oct 5 2010

You might think advertising with a Rocky-like story at the center is completely passé. You'd be wrong in this case. Contraband put together this roughly two-minute short film to promote HBO's Saturday night series Boxing After Dark, and it's a heart-tugging thing to behold. The video, dubbed "I Still Have a Soul," follows a homeless guy as he tries to regain his dignity (and his powerful left hook) with a boxing trainer. It's beautifully shot, touching without being maudlin and wonderfully effective. Let's get ready to rumble!

HBO and 'Big Love' wishing you a merry, polygamous Christmas

Posted on Mon Dec 14 2009

Caroling is common this time of year. But what you don't hear often are Christmas carols sung by the leader of a polygamous compound and his many wives. Roman Grant, the now-deceased "prophet" of Juniper Creek, a (fictional) fundamentalist Mormon compound in Utah, stars in this music video with his wives, who sing a traditional holiday tune with very untraditional lyrics. In the meantime, various images play in the background of women in 19th-century clothing standing on a rocky hill, next to a Hummer and around a Christmas tree. You also see children of the compound on swings, and very few men. The video ends with a plug to HBO's Big Love. The new season premiers on Jan. 10. If you're left wanting more, HBO, in partnership with marketing agency Digital Kitchen, has created an entire album that will leave you feeling like you've spent way too much time on the compound.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

HBO continues 'True Blood' marketing bonanza with jewelry line

Posted on Mon Sep 21 2009

Truebloodjewelry

None of the vampires on True Blood can wear silver, but the rest of us can (as long as we're not undead in any way). If you want to show your devotion to the hit series and have anywhere from 60 to 1,300 ducats to spare, HBO's licensing division and Udi Behr, chief designer for Love Peace and Hope, have some merch for you. There's been plenty of evidence during the series' two seasons of the Kryptonite-like power that silver has over vamps. It even figured heavily into the just-aired second-season finale that saw would-be fiancé Bill dragged off by an unknown attacker before Sookie could accept his marriage proposal. Cliffhanger! No such worries for any of us humans with a hankering for sterling silver, teardrop rubies, leather cuffs and bangle bracelets. There's even a patented fang-like clasp. The jewelry line had its first public introduction this weekend as part of the swag-a-thon around the Emmy Awards. For us mere mortals, it's available here.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

If nothing else, HBO's new campaign has rid the world of a mime

Posted on Fri Sep 11 2009
Mime

Mimes are annoying and stupid, for the most part, but they can also be creepy, in a killer-clown sort of way. So, good on you, BBDO New York, for ridding the world of one of those pale-faced "performance artists" in your new campaign for HBO. There are several eerie, nothing-is-as-it-seems spots in the "HBO: Imagine" campaign, but my favorite by a long shot is a mime doing his best stuck-in-a-box routine. Except this time, he really is trapped, not in his imaginary glass cube but in a truck that's sinking in very deep water. Hooray! One less mime! (Sorry, folks, but even stumbling onto a live performance several years back by Marcel Marceau, rest his soul, couldn't turn me around on this issue. Most painful half-hour of my life.) From the looks of it, "It's more than you imagined. It's HBO" has supplanted the well-worn tagline "It's not TV. It's HBO." So, is it TV again? At any rate, check out the spots (they officially launch next week), and see why BBDO wins all those awards.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

HBO bringing bloodsucker beverage from 'True Blood' to market

Posted on Wed Jul 29 2009

Trublood

First, there was Booty Sweat. Now, there's Tru Blood. For at least the second time in recent memory, a real product is springing from a fictional world. The very meta Booty Sweat energy drink came from the Ben Stiller/Robert Downey Jr. comedy Tropic Thunder. Now, it's HBO's turn, with a signature drink hitting the market in September inspired by the hit series True Blood, in which vampires no longer feed on humans and have assimilated into society. If the show's creator, Alan Ball, had his way, the soda would be a heady mix of Vicodin, Viagra, Ecstasy, vodka, cabernet and other ingredients, he said at last weekend's Comic-Con convention in San Diego. But that would be, you know, illegal. In fact, Tru Blood is blood-orange soda. Tagline: "All flavor. No bite." As he announced the drink, Ball held up a crimson bottle that's an exact replica of the ones used on the Louisiana-based drama. That "synthetic blood" is served to vampires trying to wean themselves off live victims. It comes in A, B, O-positive and other appetizing flavors, and it's often heated in the microwave before serving (to 98.6 degrees, perhaps?) so the vamps don't miss the real thing. When it existed only in the show, Tru Blood was a lynchpin of True Blood's launch, turning up in vending machines and on billboards for an added sense of realism. Just in time for the season finale, fans can drink the "real" thing.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

'L.A. Times' keeps its streak of questionable ad placements alive

Posted on Fri Jun 12 2009

Timestrueblood copy

Expecting to see a giant photo of resplendent three-point-shooter Derek Fisher on the cover of my Los Angeles Times on Friday morning, I was shocked to find instead a moody full-page shot of a vampire with a streak of blood dripping from his mouth. Has the town been taken over by the undead, and can that possibly be more important than the NBA Finals? No, it's just our paper of record selling its soul again.
  Bill the hunky vampire is part of a four-page spread touting Sunday's return of the HBO cult fave True Blood. The ad has the venerable L.A. Times logo stamped on top, making it look like the real front page, and it's wrapped around the paper, so it's the first image that readers see. The word "advertisement" is printed in tiny type below the masthead. (Fisher, in fact, is on the real front page for his stellar run in Thursday night's win over the Orlando Magic). This is the third time lately, for those keeping count, that the Times has charged into ethically suspect territory with its advertisers. Readers protested this spring over a fake news story on page one for the NBC cop drama Southland and a Paramount Pictures-sponsored ad supplement for the three-hankie movie The Soloist that carried the well-known Times logo and "editorial" content.
  At least this time the ad-sales team stuck its neck out for a quality project. Even so, it'll probably come back to bite them. Photo by i_hate_my_screen_name on Flickr.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

HBO finds the secret to making a hit movie about the Iraq war

Posted on Thu Feb 26 2009

Showing photos and video of U.S. casualties coming home is no way to sell a war, particularly an unpopular one like Iraq. But it is the best way to market a TV movie about a war, apparently, as a flag-draped coffin appeared in nearly every preview scene of Taking Chance, an HBO film starring Kevin Bacon as an officer escorting a fallen Marine back to his hometown. The movie's premiere last Saturday night drew 2 million viewers, becoming the highest-rated original movie to debut on HBO in five years. That's better than the much-hyped John Adams, which starred a couple of Oscar winners. Based on a true story, Taking Chance has broken through where many Iraq and Afghanistan-war-themed moves and TV shows before it have failed. In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, Lions for Lambs, Over There and Generation Kill all struggled to find an audience, and even Paramount and MTV Films' emphasis on hot young actors couldn't salvage Stop-Loss.
  Next up in the risky war genre is The Hurt Locker, from action-movie maven Kathryn Bigelow, which is being positioned as a straight-up thriller about a bomb squad. According to advance publicity, it just happens to be set in Baghdad.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

HBO is really into profanity, theft, vandalism and marijuana use

Posted on Thu Feb 5 2009

Eastbound-ball

You can curse on HBO, but you have to bleep out swear words on HBO street-marketing materials.
  In a stunt to promote the Feb. 15 premiere of HBO's baseball-themed comedy Eastbound and Down, street teams hired by Grand Central Marketing are putting up 5,000 half-baseball clings on windows and mirrors in sports bars, liquor stores and gyms in New York and L.A. Copy on the baseball reads: "Kenny Powers was here motherf&@#ers." Kenny being the show's main character, a former big-league pitching hopeful who was undone by "his fading fastball and his insufferable personality." The idea behind the promo is that men 18-34 will swipe the cool-looking prop, which makes the glass around it look shattered.
  The Powers character is played by Danny McBride, who was in Pineapple Express. So, this stunt seems to endorse profanity, theft, vandalism and pot smoking all at once.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein


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