Clever Creative: A Cult Following

Can the advertising efforts for this season of "American Horror Story" garner a cult following?

Clever Creative: A Cult Following

Posted Tuesday September 05th, 2017 by in Creativity + Art.

With DVR, Hulu, Netflix and other streaming sites and devices, watching live TV isn’t necessary any more. Our favorite shows can be watched at our convenience, not the networks’. However, that’s become an issue for those stations, because it looks as if ratings are decreasing. Of course they take into account the next-day watchers, but initial ratings from those watching programming live tell a scarier story.

So, the question becomes: “How do we get people to tune in to the live premiere?” In today’s “Clever Creative,” we’ll be discussing FX’s efforts to do just that for their “American Horror Story” series and whether they can garner a cult following through them.

“American Horror Story: Cult”

Over the last few seasons, “American Horror Story” producers have been looking for ways to attract more people to watch the show during its initial air time. Naturally, they ramped up their advertising efforts and began creating elaborate campaigns. Last season’s efforts were shrouded in mystery to keep viewers guessing what the theme would be, all the way up until the premiere. Part of their creative was the release of over 20 teaser videos (all with different concepts), and the revealing that only one was the real one. Avid watchers of the show were hooked, re-watching each video to decipher the meanings and find the true theme. But did it work? This year’s teasers are straightforward about the season’s approach, but there is still a pinch of secrecy to keep the viewer enticed.

Here’s a compilation of the teaser videos for this season:


Here’s the official trailer for Season 7:

There’s a majority of us GEMites who have watched every season of this show and will definitely be tuning in to see the premiere on September 5, but what about the rest of the world? Are these extensive efforts to draw people in really working? Based on the results of last season’s efforts, the answer is no. Despite all the media buzz, word-of-mouth and enticing mystery, the premier episode of “American Horror Story: Roanoke” was only the third most watched in the franchise’s history. According to Variety: “In Nielsen live-plus-three numbers — live ratings plus three days of delayed viewing — the ‘Roanoke’ premiere drew 8.3 million total viewers, 5.6 million viewers ages 18-49, and 3.4 million 18-34.” These numbers were down 9% in total viewers from the “American Horror Story: Hotel” premiere episode, which only had a handful of teaser videos for promotion.

Even though the decline in viewers might suggest that their advertising efforts aren’t working, the premiere episode of “American Horror Story: Roanoke” was still the most watched program on cable TV that night. We believe that their elaborate campaigns are still some of the best at capturing the audience's attention and making them want to tune in to the show. Most programs will only advertise the trailers, but FX’s “American Horror Story” takes an approach that was previously only done by movies. And with cinematography and detailed storylines that play out like mini movies each week, it makes sense for the show to adopt a similar advertising method.

Although the ratings are down, compared to the ratings of other episode in the series’ history, we still believe these ad campaigns are clever. Each teaser for this season has a hypnotizing effect that goes along with the theme, and persuades viewers to join them by watching. With tantalizing efforts such as this, we think “American Horror Story” will continue to amass a cult following.

Let us know what you think of these ads, and be on the lookout for next week’s installment of Clever Creative!

If you’re looking for some clever creative of your own, feel free to contact us.


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