· 4 min read
Allow Max to reintroduce itself.
Marketing teams at HBO Max and discovery+, united under a single corporate entity as of last year, are once again hard at work to market a new streaming service. The new streamer, called Max, will combine HBO and HBO Max hits like Succession and Hacks with Discovery and discovery+ franchises like 90 Day Fiancé and Fixer Upper when it premieres in the US on May 23.
Ahead of the official premiere date, Warner Bros. Discovery Streaming global CMO Pato Spagnoletto is focused on not just reintroducing old audiences to the new name and brand but also encouraging audiences that previously passed over HBO Max to give the company another chance.
“It’s really rare that you get to make a first impression for the second time, and that’s what we get to do,” Spagnoletto told Marketing Brew.
A widespread national marketing campaign for Max kicked off this week on digital, social, radio, and TV, as well as OOH in New York and Los Angeles. That campaign, which will ramp up through the month, is aimed at increasing general awareness, showing off the new color and branding around Max as well as the programming that will be available on the service when it debuts. Max will also get a big boost through Warner Bros. Discovery’s broad television footprint and its other owned and operated channels, Spagnoletto told us.
Advertising creative for the campaign will include imagery from hits like Shark Week and Sesame Street to showcase the wide variety of programming available, all featuring Max’s new tagline, “The One to Watch.” Certain elements of the campaign nod to HBO’s long history of dominating Sunday night viewing: On one billboard, the cast of Succession looms over a reminder that Max is “the one to watch on Sundays.”
“It’s really just about signaling that there’s a new service and a new product,” Spagnoletto said. “The entire point of the campaign is to show breadth and quality of service.”
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By the middle of May, the campaign will shift to a second phase, Spagnoletto said, one focused on building emotional connections with prospective and existing subscribers. Issa Rae, Jason Momoa, Chip and Joanna Gaines, and other onscreen stars from Warner Bros. Discovery shows and movies will participate in the campaign, Spagnoletto said. A third marketing phase will kick off after the platform officially debuts, and has a more straightforward approach: Encouraging consumers to sign up if they haven’t already.
“The third phase is to get functionally rational as to why you should have Max,” Spagnoletto said.
Not so new
For some TV fans, it may feel like déjà vu all over again. It wasn’t so long ago that HBO Max and discovery+ debuted in the first place. Now there’s a whole other service to get acquainted with?
Spagnoletto says the brand affinity for HBO Max is one reason why executives opted to keep Max—which Spagnoletto described as “a bit of an evolution” of HBO Max rather than an entirely new product—in the service’s name.
“We felt there was a lot of equity in the Max part of HBO Max that was built over time, and we wanted to lean into that equity as we go into this new version of the product,” he said. (Dropping HBO from the name was borne out of concern that HBO having to stand for not-premium-cable-like programming could damage the brand, Spagnoletto and other execs have said.)
As Warner Bros. Discovery works on the rollout of Max, Spagnoletto said he is cognizant that it may not go smoothly. In fact, he is bracing himself and the team to be ready to course-correct throughout the three phases of Max’s launch campaign as they try to cement Max as a powerhouse streaming brand.
“We are building a foundation for Max, the brand,” Spagnoletto said. “We are super excited about building this foundation, but it is going to have to show up every single day in everything we do.”