Roku's $10 Million Ad Campaign Starts With Presidential Loser: More Time to Stream TV

A Budget Five Times the Outlay for First Campaign Last Year

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Video-streaming service Roku is looking to tap into some of the excitement around what figures to be a photo finish in the presidential race by teeing up a $10 million ad campaign tomorrow that commences with a political theme.

Which billboard will Roku wind up using?
Which billboard will Roku wind up using?

The maker of TV set-top boxes that competes mainly with Apple TV, Roku is launching a campaign dubbed "Keep Streaming America" with billboards in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Seattle to console the presidential loser with the prospect of more time to watch TV.

Signs have been created for both possible outcomes, with versions in blue and red addressed to President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, respectively, that read, "Cheer up [candidate's name]! More time to watch TV."

"They're sitting in warehouses, waiting for CNN and Fox to agree," said Josh Denberg, creative director at Division of Labor, Roku's agency of record. If no winner is declared by midnight in the respective markets, the posting of the boards will be delayed.

Roku will spend $10 million on the campaign in November and December, with most of that allotted to outdoor and radio in equal parts and the balance going to digital and social ads. It's five times more than Roku spent a year ago on its first ad campaign, which was also created by Division of Labor and split between outdoor and radio, according to Roku Director of Marketing Eric Lachter.

While the intent last year was to get holiday shoppers thinking about Roku as they drafted their gift lists, this campaign is more about branding. That said, the company still wants to boost sales. "It's safe to say, with an investment of this scale, we want to make sure the cash registers ring," Mr. Lachter said.

The political boards will soon be swapped out with other tongue-in-cheek messages to encourage TV watching, such as "Become the indoorsy type" and "Watch enough 'Modern Family' to make your family seem normal."

"At the end of the day, we feel like TV is super fun, and we want to equate Roku with that fun," Mr. Lachter said.

Roku started selling streaming players in 2008 and raised a new $45 million round of funding in July that included News Corp. and British Sky Broadcasting Group as investors.

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