HBO and BBDO/N.Y. 's Peep Show

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Last night on New York's Lower East Side, a crowd of poncho-wearing and umbrella wielding onlookers stood in the rain staring at a wall. Before them appeared a cross-section of a building, revealing eight different apartments, Rear Window-style, each of which housed some sort of dramatic or peculiar scenario. In one apartment a group of friends engage in a wild strip poker romp while below, an elderly woman passes away and across the hall, another lady tries to off a near naked man. The "apartment" was actually a giant projection of the five-minute short film that anchors HBO's latest brand campaign, "HBO Voyeur," conceived out of BBDO/N.Y. and directed by Jake Scott of RSA.

Something seemed afoot earlier this month, when a mysterious trailer featuring elements of the Voyeur film first aired on the HBO on June 10, the night of the Sopranos finale, almost suggesting new programming for the network and driving viewers to the website Turns out it was just pre-roll for an ambitious, content-driven marketing initiative that launched yesterday: more than two hours of original footage looking into the lives N.Y. apartment denizens, released over multiple platforms: online, on HBO on Demand and HBO Mobile and on wall (the LES projection will run through next weekend).

The effort is "designed to showcase what sets us apart from other networks, which is distinct, powerful groundbreaking storytelling," explains Courteney Monroe, VP Consumer Marketing at HBO. "It's also a campaign that's really designed to speak to the evolution our subscribers have experienced with us as a service. They no longer just watch us on the network, they chat on our website, they're watching exclusive content on HBO on demand, they buy our wireless product HBO mobile. We wanted to develop a campaign that illustrated and spoke to the multi-platform evolution and mirror the sense of engagement that subscribers have with our brand."

"Their whole business is incredible stories," adds BBDO N.A. Chairman/CCO David Lubars. "It's not about one show or another, and it's not just about television. The storytelling is going to be everywhere and instead of just talking about how they tell great stories, we wanted to demonstrate it. We thought about using different mediums and this whole Rear Window concept came about when we were just kicking ideas around."

All the stories in the centerpiece film, viewable and downloadable off the Voyeur site, required balletic precision: every apartment dweller had to experience an emotional arc and hit five different "beats" at the same time. The website also includes ancillary stories from other buildings, including those of a disgruntled housewife, a mortician and a meditation guru. Depending on where you're viewing them, the shorts feature an interchangeable soundtrack compiled by Randall Poster of Search Party, featuring artists like Clint Mansell and Scott Hardkiss. HBO on Demand also features an exclusive eight-minute short "The Watcher," which looks at one of the apartment stories from the point of view of another voyeur. HBO's Monroe says the effort will be backed by a five-week marketing push and the website will be live for a few months. As for the potential to live beyond just marketing, "Who knows?" Monroe says. "We're having fun with it. It's an experiment. It certainly is a concept you could build upon."
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