HBO Attracts Marketing 'Entourage,' Allows 300 Brands Past Its Red Velvet Rope

You might not think high-end brands like Mercedes and Absolut would need help getting into the hottest spots, but along with 300 other marketers they're being allowed through the red velvet ropes of pay TV network HBO. The branded entertainment initiative, developed by the LIME public relations and promotions unit of kirshenbaum bond + partners, is built around scripted series "Entourage," which looks at young Hollywood insiders, and is loosely based on the experience of executive producer Mark Wahlberg when he was an up-and-coming actor.

To build a consumer entourage for participating brands, LIME has been handing out an "Entourage Card" on the streets of several cities across the country, as part of an outreach program designed to hit the show's young, hipster target audience at various levels and stress the exclusive perks of the "Entourage" life.

"The 'Entourage Card' offers a select group of people the inside track to cultural hot spots that include restaurants, clubs and hotels," said Claudia Strauss, LIME's president. "Not to mention discounts at high-end boutiques. Basically, it's an affinity card. Only 60,000 people in the country will have access."

LIME participated in a review for the HBO promotion back in December and further developed the idea in March, said Jim Anstey, the agency's vice president and brand action director.

"We were approached by HBO to help garner awareness for the second season of 'Entourage,' so we reached out to teams across the country about signing up marketers--who were not our clients, by the way--and the right people who would be ideal at spreading word of mouth."

LIME reached out and secured more than 300 partners to participate in the program, including national and local level partners. National partners include Ben Sherman, Scoop, PF Flyers, Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, Mercedes, Nylon, Equinox, Motorola, Absolut, and Jack Daniels, among many others.

Local partners include bars and lounges, providing "Entourage" cardholders with immediate entrance, rather than waiting in line at the hotspot. Those who are the first to show the Entourage Card that night will have the opportunity to receive an exclusive table with free bottle service. Also, all cardholders receive free cocktails during the promotional period at the respective hotspot on event nights.

The way it works, cardholders register online for the exclusive membership, and to learn about the discounts and special local promotion nights. Once cardholders go online to the Entourage "microsite"--a sub-site of the TV show's Web site--to activate their card, they're also automatically entered into a sweepstakes where they have a chance to win a free trip to Las Vegas and stay at the "Entourage Suite" at the Palms Hotel, which was specifically tailored for this program. The cities that are being targeted by the promotion are New York, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where 10,000 people in each will receive the card this summer. The "privileges" associated with the card run until December.

"The mayor of Las Vegas declared June 12th as Entourage Day," Strauss said. "How can you get more VIP than that?"

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