HBO's Sound Investment
Would Tony and Carmela mend their troubled marriage? Would Paulie Walnuts be the next whack job? Would Adriana give in to the Feds?
These were among the many questions die-hard fans of HBO's award-winning drama "The Sopranos" had to wait nearly two years to have answered. When the fifth season finally rolled around, it was going to be big news and a big draw for HBO business. No average print ad campaign would do.
To announce the March 7th season opener, HBO wanted to make a statement, do something different, and fuel the buzz. The cable network chose to run an insert in the Feb. 6, 2004, issue of Entertainment Weekly (the magazine's special Oscar edition) to let hundreds of thousands of fans know that their Sunday nights were about to get interesting again. But the four-page promo announcing "The Sopranos" premiere was more than mere ink on paper—it had a little 'byte' to it.
The insert's front cover, produced in typical Sopranos' design of red on black with a Godfather-like serif font, contained a simple message: "On Everyone's Greatest Hit List." But, turn the page, and there's a bit more than recognizable design to draw your attention.
Turning the page automatically triggers a 12-second sound byte of "The Sopranos" theme song, "Woke Up This Morning," performed by rock group A3.
"We got the idea of adding sound to a magazine insert, actually, from a vendor we didn't use," explains Stephen Campbell, director of production and distribution for HBO. "We'd seen one of their publicity mailers, for which they used a sound chip in an ad for shampoo. Our advertising and marketing teams took a look at it and said, 'We should do something like this.' "
Campbell says the insert was created to build awareness of the season premiere "in a unique and recognizable way."