Season 2 Overall Campaign
HBO launched Westworld’s inaugural season by selling the series as a luxury theme park, but as Season 2 featured a more aggressive and bold narrative—with the enraged hosts taking center stage—the digital marketing begged for a more audacious approach. With a goal of increased buzz around attention-grabbing, intriguing and highly-shareable creative, HBO compelled fans to work together to solve puzzles hidden in online assets that unlocked new content. The goal was to transform casual fans into superfans, while inviting in new audiences into the series’ unique world, all while setting the stage for a season that refined the series’ narrative.
The Westworld Season 2 digital campaign continued narratives seen in the show—only instead of acting as passive viewers, fans were invited into dialogue with the series’ hosts. Messages were planted in broad marketing assets using binary and hexadecimal code, pieced-together passwords, an interactive chatbot, social media and an ever-expanding digital ecosystem of “in-world” websites. Fans worked together on Reddit and social media to deconstruct the messages, unlocking pay-offs with huge narrative implications. The community’s collaboration created a second wave of buzz and conversation around every key asset—conversation exploded as fans realized they were becoming part of the story.
Code Breaking Game
Prior to Season 2, we launched a fan-focused code-breaking game that saw messages hidden in various assets. The dialogue revealed several major story and character elements before episodes premiered, that continued to enrich viewing throughout the season.
Super Bowl Trailer
Within Westworld’s Super Bowl LII trailer, one video frame contained a hidden binary code, which, once decoded, led to DelosDestinations.com—and through that site’s “Investors” tab—DelosIncorporated.com. Both sites confirmed and stoked fan theories about additional parks and new characters.
Digital Key Art
Three distinct tweets shared by Westworld’s stars contained pieces of the Season 2 tagline. Fans pieced the tagline together, and then input the phrase into Aeden, the show’s concierge chatbot. Aeden replied with the Season 2 key art, within which users found a hidden hexadecimal code. The code pointed to a URL containing a video message from Aeden—“find the door”—announcing the season’s theme.
Out-of-Home Key Art
Fragments of a password were hidden in out-of-home key art in multiple locations, requiring fan collaboration to unlock a new site. The code revealed a video with an ominous message to find rogue host Peter Abernathy.
With a foreboding message teasing the trailer release, Aeden took control of DiscoverWestworld.com and roadblocked more than 10 linear channels to further his agenda. The following day, fans found a new iteration of the binary code, this time pointing them to a Delos corporate anthem video, manipulated by the hosts and full of Season 2 footage.
As Season 2’s episodes brought the corporate side of Westworld into the foreground, fans could chat with two new characters connected to Delos: an enigmatic “back-up” on Delos’ corporate Intranet, and a new Facebook Messenger bot, with her own agenda.
Having pushed his message through linear, social and website video content, Aeden disappeared from his chatbot form on premiere day, emerging three days later on DelosDestinations.com. Meanwhile, on the accompanying employee intranet, a new persona greeted guests via a Delos security panel, providing a guided experience with updates on the real happenings in the park.
Midway through the season, a new character, Tes, emerged on Facebook Messenger. A representative of Delos, Tes invited users to join the Delos Elite Status program while subversively warning them of the dangers of Delos. Using natural language processing, Tes’ conversation with users will crescendo at finale.
While Westworld’s Season 1 sites updated and evolved, five new websites were launched, which thoroughly built out the world of Delos and its parks.
The map on DiscoverWestworld.com, fully taken over by the hosts, updates weekly to track the characters. Sites for two new Season 2 parks, The Raj and Shogun World, further contextualized the worlds.
DelosDestinations.com and its accompanying employee intranet became a hub for hidden narratives and superfan easter eggs. DelosIncorporated.com continued to remind users of the threat of the insidious corporation, and its 360-degree restricted intranet shed light on its secret projects—bringing users inside Season 2’s biggest mystery.
At the Season 2 Red Carpet Premiere, Westworld launched its official Instagram profile, quickly accumulating over 100K followers with a +18% weekly growth rate. The Westworld subreddit saw a 744% increase in subscribers as superfans discovered codes in key marketing assets and the cast and crew participated in AMAs throughout the season. Social conversation doubled throughout Season 2 in comparison to Season 1. On premiere day, Westworld released two custom, first-to-market social media executions.
The augmented-reality Snapchat lens transformed fans into a Westworld host, upping the personalization by pulling a user’s name into the output.
@WestworldHBO on Twitter debuted a “like to subscribe” program. The stunt officially launched @ replies to all users that started a daisy chain of exclusive videos, a secret hashtag and messages from the cast.