Direct mail case study: HBO Asia's The Knick influencer kit

For the Asian premiere of Cinemax’s new original series, The Knick, HBO Asia’s communications team produced and delivered a creative influencer kit to key media outlets and influencers.

Inspired by the series, the kit was designed as a 1900s surgeon’s box of essential medical supplies for the purpose of highlighting the historical significance, provocative medical nature and premium production quality of the series.

Set in downtown New York in 1900, The Knick centers on the surgeons, nurses and staff at the Knickerbocker Hospital, who pushed the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics.

HBO Asia’s objectives were clear:

  • To create awareness for the season premiere of The Knick.
  • To drive interest in the series among the target audience for the purpose of generating editorial coverage and social conversations about the series.
  • To pervade the content of editorials and social conversations relating to the series with the following key messages:
    -The pedigree of talent behind the series, including Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh and Golden Globe-winning actor Clive Owen.
    -The broadcast information for The Knick.
    -The pilot episode of the series being available to non-subscribers for free via streaming on YouTube and Cinemax Asia’s website.

The kit was sent to HBO Asia’s key trade and consumer media, vocal fans of HBO/Cinemax content and pop culture influencers across five Asian territories – Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan.

The Knick influencer kit contained apothecary bottles of faux medical remedies (“cocaine” for toothaches, anyone?), carbolic soap for scrubbing in and a syringe, which was actually a USB flash drive loaded with a trailer and press kit of the series placed snugly in a box that was customised to resemble a 1900s surgeon’s medical kit.

Accompanying the kit and printed using vintage treatment was an introductory letter from the fictitious Knickerbocker Hospital’s chief of surgery welcoming recipients as new surgeons of the hospital. Production notes on the series were also included.

The elaborate and intricate kit took almost two months to produce. The results were remarkable. Through the brilliant use of direct mail, with strong media angles as key components of HBO Asia’s overall communications campaign for The Knick, HBO Asia gained a total PR value of more than US$1.7 million in media coverage across five key territories. The key messages were mentioned in 100% of the editorial coverage and social conversations generated.

To create awareness for the season premiere of The Knick.

An influencer kit resembling a vintage surgeon’s kit was sent out.

A total PR value of more than US$1.7 million in media coverage across five key territories.

The writer is Magdeline Ew, head of marketing, creative & content for HBO Asia.

HBO Asia - Magdalene Ew

The Direct Mail Case Study is brought to you by Marketing Magazine in association with DMrocket