HBO Partners With Billabong To Promote 'John From Cincinnati'

HBO has employed a series of viral marketing techniques to rally viewership for "John From Cincinnati," its new series about a family of surfers which debuted after "The Sopranos" series finale. Now it's partnering with iconic Australian surf brand Billabong for a promotion designed to stoke excitement about the show and the surfing lifestyle by creating original branded content, offering a sweepstakes, and doing in-store co-branding at Billabong stores.

"Billabong is a very strong and recognizable brand in the surfing community and we wanted to use their experience and knowledge of that world to generate awareness for 'John From Cincinnati,'" Laura Young, HBO spokesperson tells Marketing Daily. "Additionally, Keala Kennelly, who plays the character Kai in the series, is a Billabong-sponsored pro surf team rider, making the company a perfect partner for this campaign."

The Billabong/HBO "Catch the Wave & Win" Sweepstakes, which runs through Aug. 31, offers contestants the chance to win air travel and accommodation for two people for two nights from anywhere in the continental U.S. to the Billabong Pro Maui event in December 2007.



The contest will be promoted on, on HBO's affiliate broadband sites and across its email marketing database, Young says, with Billabong's marquee stores in Times Square and Universal City, California co-branding John From Cincinnati/Billabong with point-of-sale materials.

The companies also have paired to produce original, co-branded content featuring Keala Kennelly that will air on HBO affiliates' broadband portals and on HBO On Demand and

HBO prepared for the series' June 10 debut by launching an ongoing campaign on May 21 targeting New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. It included a range of non-traditional advertising tactics "to organically seed the 'John From Cincinnati' name/title in high-traffic targeted areas through audio and visual saturation," Young explains.

The street marketing campaign includes surfers carrying surfboards roaming around high-traffic areas in New York and L.A., and mounting surfboards on top of taxis in New York and Philadelphia. A postcard promo to Entertainment Weekly subscribers said, "Wish You Were Here". It depicted Imperial Beach, Calif, the show's setting, with a personalized message inviting the recipient to tune in to the show's debut and a Web site, which features clips and photos from the show.

HBO, which built its brand on the slogan "It's not TV. It's HBO," has been employing alternative marketing tactics to ensure that its current slate of programming is perceived to be as groundbreaking and cutting-edge as the series that made its reputation, as "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under" and "Sex and The City," have been.

Next story loading loading..