Why running events trumps advertising

While advertising campaigns are essential in reaching out to consumers, for American cable and satellite television network HBO, events are bringing in the most direct returns on investment, Magdalene Ew, head, marketing, creative and content, HBO Asia told Marketing Events.

HBO takes an integrated approach to marketing and uses various methods and mediums to reach out to its audiences, she adds, though there is preference for events.

“The benefit events have is the hands-on interactivity it offers - be it to consumers, affiliates or media, as it builds a direct relationship with them,” said Ew.

For the brand, events constitute an essential part of its marketing strategy, moving it beyond television and online.

“In the case of on-ground events, we hope to provide participants the opportunity to have a closer experience with the brand by providing an additional touch-point for them to interact with,” Ew said.

Some of the events that HBO have organised included HBO Asia parties for its partners at trade events such as the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia in Hong Kong, the Philippines Asia Pacific Pay-TV Operators Summit (PCTA) in Manila and the Asia Pacific Pay-TV Operators Summit (APOS) in Bali, Indonesia, to consumer roadshows at shopping malls, such as the Madagascar 3 road shows to promote the Asian television premiere of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Jakarta, Indonesia.

The brand also uses celebrities to pull in consumers to its events. For instance, for the media launch event of HBO GO (a broadband streaming service) in Hong Kong, the brand engaged Hong Kong movie star and director Stephen Fung to share his views about the benefits and the interface of HBO GO.His presence at the media launch event boosted the coverage of HBO GO across multiple platforms including print, broadcast and online, said Ew.

To promote the third season of the HBO Original series, The Newsroom, one of the cast regulars, Olivia Munn was in Singapore to promote the series and HBO flew in media from the region to interview her. The regional media coverage garnered from Olivia Munn’s visit to Singapore pulled in a return on investment of almost 50 times, said Ew.

In addition, for the Asian premiere the latest Game of Thrones series, the brand also organized two separate events in Singapore - a HBO Asia Game of Thrones Art Exhibition as well as a HBO Game Of Thrones Savour party. A total of SGD$35,000 was raised from this event. The brand also witnessed a 14% increase in Facebook fans following its Game of Thrones Facebook campaign this year.