HBO Digital Marketing VP Emily Giannusa On Why The Traditional Playbook Doesn’t Work For Gen Z

Social Distancing With FriendsWhen Emily Giannusa watches television or streams something, it’s research.

As VP of digital marketing at HBO, Emily has worked on campaigns for “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld,” “True Detective,” “Veep” and, most recently, “Euphoria,” an Emmy-nominated series for the Gen Z audience.

The word authenticity gets tossed around a lot, but marketing “Euphoria” really did require Emily’s team to throw out the traditional marketing playbook.

HBO's Emily Giannusa and Frank the Tank.“When you reach out to this younger fanbase, it can’t feel like marketing – it has to feel real,” Emily said.

But nurturing fandom is really difficult, especially among a primarily Gen Z audience with noses well-calibrated to sniff out marketing BS. For “Euphoria,” creating community around the show meant developing an always-on social strategy centered on YouTube and Instagram as a way to “inspire FOMO and catch-up” in the places where fans already spent a lot of their time, Emily said.

The most vital tactic, though, was simply paying attention to what fans were saying in those channels.

“I can’t stress enough that it’s really important to listen to what people are talking about, what’s popping,” Emily said. “Just remain flexible.”

Also in this episode: Pivoting a red carpet premiere when coronavirus upended best-laid plans; an explanation of what it means to be a self-described “pizza bagel from Coney Island;” tips on using your kitchen table as a makeshift standing desk; and the shows Emily turns to for a guilty pleasure binge.

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