AMC’s critically acclaimed Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul tells the story of criminal lawyer Jimmy McGill, the man who eventually becomes Saul Goodman and the lawyer of Walter White.
While the promotion for the show’s first two seasons mainly revolved around Jimmy, AMC seized a unique opportunity for the show’s third season, which premiered on April 10: the return of iconic villain Gus Fring and his fictional fast-food chain Los Pollos Hermanos, both of which fans are very familiar with from Breaking Bad.
The Los Pollos Hermanos experience
Drug lord Gus Fring and his fast-food restaurant chain Los Pollos Hermanos, which is mainly a front for money laundering and illegal activities, first appeared in the second season of the original series.
Walter White and Jesse Pinkman were put into contact with Fring by Jimmy/Saul Goodman, and it was uncertain if Fring would join the ranks of familiar faces appearing in the prequel revolving around the life of the lawyer anytime soon.
In January, AMC kicked off the marketing campaign for season three with the release of a faux commercial for the fictional Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant, in which Fring enters the scene. This, of course, hinted at his first appearance in the Breaking Bad spin-off, leaving fans excited as many were already eagerly awaiting the drug lord’s return to their TV screens.
The fake commercial was released on a designated Los Pollos Hermanos YouTube channel and distributed via the show’s social media accounts. Moreover, the ad was actually broadcast on late-night TV in Albuquerque, the setting of the show.
Within three days of its launch, the YouTube video generated over 870,000 views and created buzz among fans and media alike.
A few weeks after the release of the ad, AMC went one step further and brought the restaurant to life. It offered fans the chance to get an actual taste of the fast-food restaurant’s infamous curly fries at a full-scale replica of Los Pollos Hermanos (LPH) at the South by Southwest festival in Austin.
The pop-up restaurant was open from March 10 to 12 and provided festival-goers with fried food and an authentic experience of the fictional restaurant in real life.
Complementing the free curly fries were employees in complete LPH attire and a chicken mascot. Visitors were additionally encouraged to “apply for a job” at the restaurant by tagging social media posts of their visit with the hashtag #LPHisHiring, which also entered them into a sweepstakes to win a meet-and-greet with the actors Giancarlo Esposito and Bob Odenkirk, who portray Gus Fring and Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman, respectively.
Fans who couldn’t attend SXSW were given another chance to visit a LPH pop-up. The channel teamed up with Citizens Parking and created pop-up restaurants in Los Angeles, and New York City between March 29 and April 10. Again, fans were able to get a taste of the infamous curly fries and the hype for the new episodes spread beyond Austin.
To extend the LPH craze into the digital space, AMC encouraged fans to apply for a job as Fring’s executive assistant in the ‘#LPHisHiring‘ contest on Instagram from April 3 to 25. The channel asked fans to complete one of three challenges to get the ‘job,’ which was actually a trip to LA for an exclusive Better Call Saul experience.
To enter the contest, fans had to share a photo of what they would want to see as a new menu item, post a video of a slogan for the restaurant, or share a photo showing how much fried chicken and curly fries they can eat. All entries had to be posted on Instagram using the hashtags #LPHisHiring and #Contest.
Branded digital activations
The second part of AMC’s promotion for the new season consisted of activations and integrated campaigns in partnership with the show’s long-time brand partners Acura and Cinnabon.
The first of these is again linked to the return of Fring and adds to the LPH experience. In partnership with Acura, AMC created the branded web series Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training. In weekly two-minute webisodes, Fring himself gives business advice and introduces animated management training videos for his employees.
The episodes are released weekly on AMC’s website and apps, official YouTube channel and all social media outlets after the broadcast of new Better Call Saul episodes. Each webisode includes a lesson of the week that relates to that week’s episode of the show. Also, attentive viewers occasionally catch glimpses of the criminal mastermind beneath Fring’s friendly business smile.
Besides the videos featuring Fring, Acura and AMC also created 10 new spots with the mysterious driver character from the brand’s previous sponsorship.
This year, the spots that air during each Better Call Saul episode direct viewers to the weekly online trivia bingo. The interactive bingo game allows fans to unlock exclusive Better Call Saul bonus content and was made available on April 17 on a dedicated microsite.
The aim of the game is to answer three trivia questions, which cover all three Better Call Saul seasons. If all questions have been answered correctly, players earn a bingo, which will bring them closer to unlocking the bonus content. Fans need to return weekly as the exclusive bonus content is only unlocked if all weekly bingos are completed.
Car manufacturer Acura is not the only brand to team up with AMC to promote the third season of the show. AMC also continues its partnership with Cinnabon, the bakery that is Saul Goodman’s current undercover work place.
Together, AMC and Cinnabon offered fans the chance to unlock an exclusive sneak preview prior to the premiere and to win a briefcase full of cash in the ‘#BCS Sweepstakes‘ from March 27 to April 23.
To enter the competition, fans simply had to enter their email address on Cinnabon’s website. Alternatively, fans could share a selfie with the Saul standees inside participating Cinnabon stores across the US using the hashtags #BetterCallSaul and #Sweeps.
AMC and Cinnabon had already launched similar photo-sharing contests for Better Call Saul season one and two. In addition, Cinnabon gave away free BonBites on premiere day.
Overall, AMC’s experiential marketing approach for season three was tremendously effective among fans of both AMC series and has raised great attention around the globe.
In that case, the return of Fring and LPH were a real godsend for the channel’s marketing team, which could centre much of its promotion on the restaurant and drug lord and offer unique experiences that allowed fans to dive deep into the series’ universe. By extending the experience into the digital space, AMC could achieve an even wider reach and activate fans all over the world.
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