Advertising 2.0?

As A&E Networks prepares to broadcast reruns of the popular HBO series, The Sopranos, the cable channel is faced with the challenge of building excitement for shows that millions of viewers have already seen. Enter: The Sopranos A&E Connection.

Part fantasy football, part scavenger hunt, the idea is for potential A&E Sopranos viewers to find game pieces hidden in physical A&E advertisements—in magazines, billboards, phone booths and even on public busses—then photograph them with a digital camera and upload them to the game’s Web site. There, the pictures are converted into game pieces representing characters and objects in the show, and added to players’ customized online game boards. Players then arrange the pieces according to how often they think characters and objects will appear in the next Sopranos episode. The more accurate their guesses, the higher their scores. The player with the highest score at the end of the show’s first season (which ends February 21) will be rewarded with a “suitcase” of cash totaling $100,000.

The payoff for A&E could be much larger. Beyond revenue from a successful run of the series, the network, which has three times the audience reach of HBO but a fraction of its cachet, is looking to earn brand recognition. “We are adding another layer to the consumer experience,” says Stacy Krusch, A&E’s director of strategic alliances and consumer marketing. “This is a chance to engage the consumer—to encourage them to participate and have a deeper relationship with the show, as well as the network.”

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