As the end of Games of Thrones looms, HBO is turning to the robot cowboys and mad scientists of its new series Westworld with technology-based marketing efforts meant to immersive viewers in the show’s universe.
At the forefront of that effort is virtual reality, coupled with an interactive microsite where fans can take a deep dive into the story by unlocking additional content and building connections with the show.
“Your most engaged and passionate fans, particularly when we’re dealing with a genre show, can be your greatest advocate,” Sabrina Caluori, senior vice president of digital media and marketing for HBO, told Variety. “So that’s for us the reason to build out this very rich experience. If we can create something cool, they’ll help to drive the overall word of mouth and success of the show.”
Based on the 1973 movie of the same name written and directed by Michael Crichton, the series takes place in a futuristic western-themed amusement park where guests are able to satisfy their every whim. While the theme park was developed with gratuitous satisfaction in mind, something goes deadly wrong.
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In addition to “the theatrical-style campaign of on-air, online and outdoor advertising that is a must for a big series launch,” HBO’s tech-driven interactive campaign focuses on bringing the show’s fictional theme park into the real world—a feat recently accomplished with the premiere of a Westworld virtual reality experience created by TechCrunch Disrupt.
The price of such of VR trip isn’t cheap—the Vive VR headset, for instance, is about $800—but what vacation is? The platform, although not the most accessible, enhances the premise of the show, Caluori said.
“We built something that was highly immersive and interactive,” she told Variety. “The fact that we didn’t get scale out of it from a consumer perspective matched with the overall strategy of both reaching that tech influencer but also continuing to drive home the exclusivity of Westworld as a park destination.”
Along that same vein HBO created the microsite DiscoverWestworld.com, designed as a realistic website for a luxury resort. But as fans begin to dig in and the series progresses, the site will serve as a hub where they can discover new content, unlock secrets and consume more of the show.
The campaign is targeted at sci-fi fans, tech enthusiasts and fans of husband and wife producers Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight) and Lisa Joy (Burn Notice), along with J.J. Abrams.
Nolan and Joy have worked closely with HBO’s marketing team on how to bring the series to life.
“With Westworld there were really good opportunities to bring the park out into the real world and break that fourth wall,” Nolan said. “So we talked about all of the ways that we could actualize the park in the real world.”
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READ MORE: Variety