Using old style media, new style

When the BBC and Netflix collaboration, Dracula, aired in 2020, it was inevitably loved by some and less by others but generally, reviews were favourable.

Written in 1897 by Bram Stoker, it’s a well-known story which has been dramatised many times, so how did the BBC, in a saturated market, advertise a drama that we – an incredibly sophisticated audience – are entirely familiar with, and get millions of us watch it?

Well, pretty creatively as it turns out.

Remember, this was just before the onset of Covid and with very little inkling of what was to come. So, the BBC created an experience that connected with the target audience – which was basically all of us as we were still out and about as usual.

And it’s the out and about that’s key. They picked Birmingham and London and took the marketing outside, but only in the country’s two biggest cities.

Basically, they erected billboard posters that by day appeared to be stabbed by a random collection of stakes – the standard way to dispatch vampires, obviously – but as dusk fell it became clear that the stakes had been placed with the utmost intention as by night, they transformed the poster and created the looming, menacing silhouette of an about-to-sink-his-fangs-in Dracula.

And it was an incredibly creative way of making a traditional 2D medium spring to contemporary 3D life.

It worked. There were an estimated 43 thousand posts on social media which in the end generated a reach of around 22 million people through likes, comments and retweets – not to mention the PR coming from more than 40 articles written about the billboards. And the limited geographical area of the billboards simply played into this.

It just shows that there’s always room for an oldie if it’s a goodie.

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