HBO reminded younger viewers about its movie offerings by hosting a “stay home to the movies” event in a $30 million townhome.
For two weeks, users on the Bumble Date and BFF apps had a chance to attend an exclusive event at the Brownstone in New York. Those selected were invited to hang out and watch movies in 10 screening rooms across multiple floors, as well as take photos in several branded areas with the hashtag #StayHometotheMovies. Stay Home to the Movies is a campaign that HBO started earlier this year.
An interactive wall in the house asked people to share their reasons for staying in, and an “excuse generator” helped come up with those reasons. There were also colorful areas like a bathtub filled with movie candy. A wide array of movies was available to appease any genre craving, including Girls Trip, IT and Back to the Future.
“We’re doing this because for all the buzz we get for original programming, we don’t want people to forget out about movies,” Jason Mulderig, vice president of brand and product marketing at HBO told AList. “The whole idea of the campaign is that staying in can be as good as going out.”
The exclusive event ran from August 15-16, with around 65 people attending each night. An additional 1,200 people signed up for a waitlist that HBO and Bumble launched just 24 hours ahead of the event. Guests took a quiz upon arrival to receive a movie recommendation but were allowed to wander about, mingle and of course, take social media photos to their hearts’ content.
“Bumble was a brand that was on our radar and when we started to think about their audience being younger, socially connected [and] always out looking for something to do, this idea felt like it was a really good fit with something experiential and something [Bumble’s] audience would like. It felt like a perfect match.”
Despite the partnership with a dating app, Mulderig said HBO was not inspired by the idea of “Netflix and Chill.” Instead, the brand wanted to invite people together to recapture the excitement of HBO Saturday night movies for the modern age.
“This [campaign] is really steeped in our heritage,” he said. “Back in the ’70s and ’80s, HBO was one of the first to bring movies into the home and they were special events. That was something that older audiences are nostalgic for, but when you look at the behaviors of someone under the age of 35, they grew up in a streaming and on-demand environment. They may not know of all the places where you can get movies.”
HBO’s core audience tends to skew in the high 40s, Mulderig observed, while Bumble’s audience is a bit younger. He estimated that the Stay Home to the Movies attendees were anywhere between the ages of 18-34.
“We want to be top of mind, so we were trying to figure out how you can bring that experience into the real world and reinforce the specialness of the occasion,” said Mulderig. “The townhouse was reflective of the high quality of movies that we have. Maybe not everyone can hang out and socialize in a $30 million townhouse in New York City, but you can still have the same quality movie experience wherever you are.”
In a digital age where cord-cutting has become more popular, HBO wants audiences to perceive value in its offerings, especially when it comes to movies. To succeed, however, HBO needs audiences to talk about it—something that has happened naturally over several decades already.
“Whether it’s our heritage of movies on Saturday nights or Sunday nights when everyone is watching together, the brand itself have always been inherently social. We kind of own the water cooler.”