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Black Sails: Pirates Are Better Than...
Feb. 5, 2014
Team members: Erin Dwyer - Executive Director, Digital Marketing, STARZ, Allison Ingalls - Manager, Digital Marketing, STARZ, Michael Chuang - Art Director, STARZ, Paul Suggett - Creative Director, STARZ
About this entry
Forget everything you thought you knew about pirates. The STARZ Original Series Black Sails blows the classic ‘parrot and peg leg’ perception of piracy out of the water. We aimed to reinvent the pirate genre in all of its gritty realities and bloody truths to make you look at piracy in a whole new light. By comparing pirates to other popular shows’ protagonists (e.g., zombies, vampires, etc.) during the fan-filled 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, we illustrated the many ways in which pirates are the new thing, and everything else is old news.
Leveraging popular observances later in the year, we added new comparisons to keep the movement going. The widely-observed Talk Like A Pirate Day and the lesser-known National Rum Day were perfect platforms upon which to stake our claim.
Bolstering our fans’ allegiance to Black Sails, 2014 was staunchly declared the Year of the Pirate. Our new devotees were called upon to join the Nation of Thieves - and our collective rally cry - in preparation for this charge, which led to a powerful movement of pirates standing united and proud.
The case for why this entry should win a Shorty
Relevance garners response, and these lists did exactly that. Between the applicable nature of the topics as they related to various series that have gained traction in popular culture recently, and the timeliness of the content during periods when fans were most engaged, the “Pirates are Better Than” series was a hit for old pirates and new fans alike.
Fans were encouraged to share the posts with their friends/followers – a beckoning of sorts to make their allegiance known. This mantra of “stand with us or stand against us” truly rallied enthusiasts around the common goal of building a steadfast crew. On Facebook alone, the Comic Con posts saw 522% greater viral reach and 194% more engaged users than the average post during that week. This illustrated how a simple but entertaining call to arms can unite and motivate a loyal crew of supporters. Furthermore, the later posts – Rum and Werewolves – saw 136% and 387% greater viral reach, respectively, indicating that it doesn’t take a convention for our followers to join forces on behalf of the Black Sails flag.
Overall, the outpouring of support was overwhelming. This effort set the foundation of what eventually resulted in a Facebook following of more than 180,000 prior to the series’ premiere, a record high for a STARZ Original Series. Additionally, these lists and the show were so well received at San Diego Comic-Con that the STARZ network renewed the series for a second season before the first season even began. This goes to show the power of relevant content and engaged fans – certainly a perfect pairing that resulted in big gains for Black Sails.