In Starz’ original series, American Gods, the gods are beings who are worshipped by man. Some of the gods, such as Odin, are as old as time and have come over with their worshippers from their countries of origins. Others, such as Technology Boy and Mr. World, are as new as an iPhone X.
In season 2, Starz realized the issues covered by the show presented a broad opportunity to give back. Starz linked each of season 2’s eight episodes to a specific charity. When that episode aired, it posted a link on Facebook that appeared in fans’ feeds.
“There are so many themes and issues in this show that are relevant in today’s society,” said David Muehl, Starz’ vice president of digital marketing. “We wanted to connect those to the real-life issues and raise awareness for the organizations that support them. We chose organizations that represented each issue.”
Starz chose to work exclusively on Facebook because “there is a really high concentration of passionate and engaged fans on Facebook who have watched the show and read the book and have been organically discussing those social and political themes already,” said Muehl. “We wanted to address them directly.”
For example, in the first episode back, “House on the Rock,” Mr. Wednesday/Odin (Ian McShane) brings Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) to the aforementioned House on the Rock, a real site in Wisconsin that includes a carousel, streets, gardens and shops designed by Alex Jordan Jr. and opened in 1959.
After that episode aired, Starz posted on Facebook, “Over the centuries people felt calls to places of power. Learn more about the powerful lands of America, and help protect them by visiting the National Parks Conservation Association: an independent, nonpartisan organization that works to strengthen and protect America’s favorite places,” and included a link to donate.
Responded one commenter: “Excellent choice. Our national parks need to be preserved for future generations. Assuming there are any,” wrote Jenny Hanniver.
From there, each episode brought a new link to a new cause. Episode two, “The Beguiling Man,” linked to the National Immigration Law Center.
“Those who brought their gods to America came to build a new life in a new land,” Starz wrote. “The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) believes that all people who live in the U.S. should have the opportunity to prosper and thrive, and is dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants.”
Other associations included girls who code, which aims to close the gender employment gap in technology; Polaris, which works to prevent human trafficking; the well-known NAACP, which works to ensure equality for all people; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP); and Fisher House Foundation, which works to improve the quality of life for military veterans.
The season finale, “Moon Shadow,” which aired Sunday, April 28, highlighted The Innocence Project.
Even though the show has concluded for this season, the posts remain in play. Thus far, they have garnered more than 300,000 impressions and 6,000 engagements.
Beyond American Gods, Starz has raised and donated money to organizations via other shows. In conjunction with its original Latinx series Vida, it has donated $10,000 to RAICES, which has been working to keep families together at the border. And Starz provided a $25,000 scholarship to the winner of a spoken-word contest in conjunction with docuseries America to Me.
“Storytelling is a powerful mechanism for provoking thought, prompting conversation and driving progress in our culture,” said Alison Hoffman, Starz’ chief marketing officer, in a statement. “When the narrative allows us to organically raise awareness for a cause or engage in an important conversation by connecting our content to real-world issues, we see the fans actively embrace and engage in these types of purpose-driven marketing campaigns.”