Airing the season four opener of Fear the Walking Dead the same night as the eighth season finale of The Walking Dead —and dubbing the event Survival Sunday—is a good way to keep viewers engaged in both series, especially as Lennie James’ beloved character, Morgan, crosses from the original series to Fear the Walking Dead. But it’s only one of the creative ways AMC is promoting Fear the Walking Dead.
“Season four is a pivotal moment for the series with new characters, new worlds, and a new time altogether. The story and these characters are pushed in entirely new directions and to new emotional places,” says Justin Manfredi, senior vice president of marketing for AMC and Sundance TV. “That allowed us to take the marketing in new directions as well—have fun with the fans and create communications and messaging that get them excited about what’s to come and how these new stories will unfold and drive linear as well as digital viewership.”
From on-air spots to social media posts, there were a couple of key messages: Morgan is moving to Fear the Walking Dead, and even if you’ve never watched Fear you can jump right in—especially if you’re already a fan of the original series.
“Both properties have amazing communities and the fact that we’re now able to bring these worlds together—both narratively through Morgan’s crossover and also in our marketing—provides us with an incredible opportunity to ignite the fans of both properties,” Manfredi says.
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One of the most novel ways AMC found to promote the crossover involves ESPN.
“ESPN and AMC have a long-standing media relationship, and our fans are able to benefit from that partnership in very unique and genuine ways.” Manfredi explains. “The synergy between the ESPN audience and our TWD and Fear communities couldn’t be stronger.”
They created a spot where The Jump’s Paul Pierce and Rachel Nichols have James on set to discuss basketball, which has a very different definition of “crossover.”
“Who better to partner with than Paul and Rachel—two people who know a little something about executing a proper crossover?” Manfredi says.
Being a multi-platform entertainment company, AMC’s goal is to connect with and serve fans wherever they are, making digital and social media crucial parts of the overall marketing push.
“The Fear campaign is a fully immersive campaign integrated across print, out-of-home, radio, and well as experiential activations with our Times Square Shuttle wrap and Fathom Events movie theater event,” Manfredi say, referencing the April 15 event in which the season finale of The Walking Dead and the season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead will show, commercial free, in AMC theaters across the country.
Manfredi calls the Times Square Shuttle wrap, a digital spectacular out-of-home billboard in New York, and AMC’s first Twitch livestream competition his favorite parts of the current push.
“The team did a great job bringing this campaign to life,” he says.
While he says coming up with new ways to promote both series is always fun, this time it was even better to have a little more to play with.
“Morgan’s crossover is an important part of Fear this season, but it’s just one note of the campaign and message,” Manfredi stresses. “Our goal this year with Fear is to expand the world and storytelling to give fans more of what they love. More action more zombies, more surprises. It’s an opportunity for the franchise to plant a flag with the community. The Walking Dead world is bigger than any one story or show.”
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