SEASON 5 PART 2 PREMIERE – SOCIAL LAUNCH CAMPAIGN
Making NOISE AFTER A 500+ DAY HIATUS
As the pandemic shut down television productions in early 2020, SHOWTIME’s hit drama Billions was only halfway through Season 5. The abrupt pause left fans eagerly awaiting its return — which would end up being 504 days later. That’s where we came in.
With a hungry fanbase, and just two weeks until launch, Showtime needed a premiere night stunt that would propel Billions Season 5 Part 2 right back into mainstream conversation.
SOCIAL CAMPAIGN GOAL – BRING BACK THE BILLIONAIRES
STEP 1: REWARD SERIES LOYALTY | Step 2: DRIVE TUNE-IN
We identified two key objectives to ensure a successful return of the remaining five episodes of the season. One, reward Billions fans for their loyalty, just as Bobby Axelrod would. And two, buzz around Billions in the final hours before its return.
To do so, we leaned on surefire conversation starters — the already vocal Twitter fanbase, Venmo’s public feed and cold hard cash.
IT PAYS TO BE FRIENDS WITH BILLIONAIRES
THE IDEA: PAY OUT CASH TO FRIENDS ON VENMO
Less than 72 hours prior to the premiere, we opened an official Venmo account for Showtime Billions, with the handle name “Dollar-Bill-Billions” — a callback to a popular series character known for getting scrappy.
The challenge: Creating a business account under a time crunch was no easy feat. So, we got scrappy just like Dollar Bill, loaded the regular user account with $5,000 and got to work.
At 9am on premiere day, Showtime’s Billions pinned a tweet, telling folks to hit up Dollar Bill on Venmo. And then avarice took over. Throughout the day, we manually confirmed 1300 individual new friend requests. Many of which played along with ambitious requests of their own — like asking us for $10 million. Hey, gotta try, right?
One pinned tweet — that’s all it took to start the avalanche, house all #Billions conversations in one place, and drive fans to another platform to take action.
FANS CASHED IN ON BILLIONS
When the premiere episode aired, we doled out the cash by paying a random selection of 50 Venmo friends $100 each. Then the wildfire spread. Recipients took to Twitter sharing screenshots of their payout, their friends liked and commented on the public Venmo feed update, and Billions actor Kelly AuCoin, who plays Dollar Bill, engaged with fans directly for fun.
The organic, word-of-mouth approach was a success: seven minutes into premiere #Billions was trending.
Billions fans are no strangers to plot twists, so to close out the quick stunt a final tweet announced our funds had been frozen.
The organic, word-of-mouth approach was a success: seven minutes into premiere #Billions was trending in New York.
In the span of 12 hours, the surprise payout stunt garnered 20% more social mentions than the premiere of Season 5 Part 1, 7x more engagement than our series average on Twitter, and 38x more impressions than our series average on Twitter, with zero paid media support. Active Community Management propelled the conversation on premiere day: 1300+ friend requests, 1M total impressions, and a ~6% engagement rate on Venmo, more than double the engagement rate Billions typically sees on other social platforms. Overall the campaign led to a wildly successful premiere night for the return of the series.