Mr. Robot is a dystopian drama series on the USA Network, centered around a vigilante hacker group known as fsociety. In early 2015, the network’s parent company NBCUniversal challenged us to create a unique and engaging series of promotional campaigns for the series.
With little to no information about the show revealed to the public at this point, we used that mystery to our advantage and created a tactically elusive guerilla marketing stunt at SXSW. The experience not only launched the show to the public, but also promoted the pilot screening at SXSW, ultimately garnering rave reviews and driving interest for the series.
But that was just the beginning. Over the next few weeks, we executed a one-of-a-kind, live-streamed campaign for the show’s linear launch of the premiere season. NBCUniversal was so impressed with the results, they approached us again in 2016 to promote the show’s second season. Each season’s campaign spanned across both the digital and physical spectrums, resulting in an immersive viewer experience that defied expectations.
To promote the premiere of USA Network’s new show Mr. Robot, ISL created a massive, first of its kind campaign. Our mission was to have our activation be the living manifestation of Mr. Robot and the fsociety hackers — highlighting one of the show’s main pillars, debt deletion. To do this, we built a real-world hacker lair and created a three day live-stream event on Twitch, the largest social gaming platform in the world, where viewers would be able to reap the benefits of our fsociety’s digital corporate takedown as we deleted over $100,000 of the people’s debt in real time.
In order to seed awareness and build excitement for our live-stream, we produced 13 scripted vignettes that would cut into the E3 (the world’s largest gaming conference) Twitch channel; these gave the appearance that there were legitimate hacks into the stream. After our E3 takeover, our hackers migrated to our eponymous Mr. Robot Twitch page, where for 17 hours fsociety members interacted with our audiences, build hardware and video games, and helped give away over $100k live.
This campaign yielded many firsts for Twitch including, having a TV partner leverage the platform’s live-stream capabilities for a custom interactive experience, in addition to boasting the largest cash giveaway that has ever occurred on Twitch.
We built the Mr.Robot hacker lair from the ground up. Our 3D model allowed us to conceptualize the space ahead of the actual build and we were able to make both creative and logistical decisions based on the parameters we uncovered. We landed on combining elements from the actual show, like the fsociety logo and print-outs of the characters, with more custom touches, like our graffiti and object selection.
“You guys have a hit campaign on your hands; thanks for making both of us shine 😀”
From the wood infrastructure to set design and scenic painting, we had a ton of fun exploring the depths of the Robot lair. Our team hustled to erect the wood frames that would ultimately support the infrastructure of our set. From there, we fashioned a few different wall and floor textures to make the space feel authentic and lived-in.
To promote the Season 2 premiere of Mr. Robot, NBC Universal and ISL created a robust pre-linear campaign which shattered the expectations of traditional TV marketing. Our mission was to incite a digital frenzy and ignite mass awareness in anticipation for the July 13th linear premiere by producing a revolutionary, international campaign, the likes of which the world had never seen.
On July 7th, we utilized Mr. Robot’s tone of voice and aesthetics to “hack” the Mr. Robot Facebook page for over 24 hours by broadcasting 11 customized ”global rants” via Facebook Live. Using paid promotion, each live video was targeted to its local demographic, encouraging the global audience to participate in real time. Never before had a campaign leveraged the potential of Facebook Live on this scale, effectively creating globally targeted real-time video advertising for 11 countries.
To physically bring the campaign into the world, we partnered with STORY, to help produce a shoppable six-week pop-up, aptly themed Disrupt. The store featured a Mr. Robot inspired tweet-to-dispense vending machine and a custom ATM that allowed visitors to hack the interface—using clues they found hidden in STORY—to receive real cash on the spot.
Three days after the Global Rants, fans were invited to a Facebook Live Q&A session with the entire cast at Story, a concept store in NYC. Fifteen minutes into the live Q&A, our enraptured audience and digital fan base was shocked when fsociety hacked the livestream to drop Part 1 of the Season 2 premiere. At the same time, a single tweet appeared from @whoismrrobot, announcing the limited time availability of the premiere across multiple social platforms: Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, and usanetwork.com.