If you’ve been watching Fox much lately you might have seen some quick ads featuring a caduceus employing a cane instead of a staff during commercial breaks. This symbol has also shown up as a chalk drawing in New York City and has referenced a web-site snakesonacane.com. Fox has announced that this has been part of a viral marketing effort for the 6th season of their hit medical drama House M.D..
The coolest part about this viral marketing effort is that it wasn’t the idea of some marketing wiz or a big-wig at Fox. No, Hugh Laurie was the one who came up with this idea of how to market House during the summer. In the spring, the actor sketched the symbol and showed it to the network, whose marketing department ran with the idea as an innovative teaser campaign.
The first part of the campaign just spread the symbol, shown above, without any context. The second phase of the campaign added a countdown clock showing the House premiere date on the snakeonacane web-site. This phase included five-second “subliminal” ads that were shown during Fox programming. These ads remained cryptic and did not directly show a connection to House. Another ad was given a full-page placement in a major publication, but did not give a title or tune-in date.
The crucial part of this campaign is making sure that viewers can make the connection between the teaser imagery of “snakes on a cane” and House the TV show. Fox is set to ramp up the 3rd phase of its campaign now. In addition to ads both on and off the air, the network will have a vintage ambulance driving around Los Angeles with the symbol on it. This ambulance will show tune-in information for the show.
Let me be one of the masses that say that this marketing campaign is brilliant. House is a great show, but there are a lot of other medical dramas that are going to be coming up that will try and take House’s place as the best medical drama on TV. This campaign is a great way to spark new interest in the show and possibly draw in new viewers. In all honestly the effort going into the viral marketing reminds me of some of the work done for The Dark Knight. There were lots of little hints and symbols that were put out to spark people’s attention and interest. The new methods of using viral marketing to push TV and movies has been a lot of fun and lets hope it continues to be.
Season 6 is going to be good, but the effort Fox is putting into marketing House makes me feel as though the network is fully onboard with keeping the show great. Below we’ve posted one of the viral ads that are circulating right now.
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