HBO Takes Westworld Viral Marketing Into New Worlds

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Westworld / HBO / Dolores

Ahead of the premiere of Westworld‘s second season on Sunday, HBO released a viral campaign designed to reward hardcore fans with a trail of clues about where the action might be heading next.

Leading up to the first series premiere, HBO had launched DiscoverWestworld.com, a consumer-facing travel website that introduced fans to Westworld and planted story Easter eggs that would pay off months later.

The Season 1 viral campaign won a Shorty award and paid off as a teaser to the series “with 1.4MM visits to DiscoverWestworld.com; over 1 million interactions with the chatbot; more Twitter buzz than any HBO series premiere on record; and Season 1 generating more buzz (530K+ mentions) than any HBO Season 1 series. Westworld chatter peaked during the season finale which totaled 272.6 total interactions. By all metrics, Westworld became HBO’s most-successful new series debut ever.”

HBO Westworld viral marketing

Teased in the Season 2 trailer, the website for Delos Destinations, the theme park operator behind the vast and violent Westworld theme park in the series, was at first scrambled and then updated to reveal other theme parks including the Shogun World already glimpsed in the finale to Season 1. The description:

For those for whom Westworld is not enough, the true connoisseur of gore can indulge their fantasies with the slash of a katana. Modeled after Japan’s Edo period, Shogun World offers a chance for guests to embrace their inner warrior, in a landscape of highest beauty and darkest horror. Let your true self take shape in the land where self-discovery is an art form.

The website also updates the description for Westworld to reveal that the power balance has shifted as “Chaos Takes Control”:

Westworld

Click on “Stay” for reservations and the landing page states that reservations aren’t possible because nobody can enter (or leave) the park. Click on “check availability” for a message from the animatronic characters who have taken over.

Westworld Delos website reservations

The site also links to parent company Delos Incorporated with a faux corporate site that includes a link to another microsite: Delos Careers.

HBO Westworld Delo careers website

The recruitment site turns out to be a teaser for a Westworld game by WB Games: “Westworld | Delos Park Training Simulation – Control Your Future.” The call to action: “Delos is looking for great talent. Positions are opening up soon at Westworld! Learn more ► Visit http://DelosCareers.com or http://WestworldMobile.com”

HBO had planted an Easter Egg trail to the Delos microsites in the trailer for season 2 of Westworld. Eagle-eyed Reddit users “quickly discovered binary code in the footage and, after running it through a binary calculator, learned that it translated to a website URL.”

Update: More hints at what’s to come from the Season 2 opening credits sequence—

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