With more TV shows making the trek to San Diego Comic-Con every year, networks and studios are continually searching for new ways to cut through the clutter and promote their upcoming projects.
This year, USA Network’s high-concept sci-fi drama “Colony” has a head start on connecting with the genre audience thanks to the presence of “Lost” showrunner Carlton Cuse as co-creator and executive producer — a prospect made all the more enticing when you add in “Lost” star Josh Holloway, who headlines the show along with “The Walking Dead’s” Sarah Wayne Callies.
USA Network’s Alexandra Shapiro, exec VP of marketing and digital, recognizes the value of Cuse and Holloway’s reunion, and intends to leverage their “Lost” connection in promoting the new series.
“‘Lost’ fans will not be disappointed at the panel,” she teases. “We are very well aware of the power of the ‘Lost’ fanbase and will pay homage to the ‘Lost’ fans in our panel Friday.”
Shapiro notes that “Colony” represents a special opportunity for USA at Comic-Con, given that, in the seven years the network has been a presence at the con, “we’ve never had a show that is so appropriately themed to the origins of Comic-Con — a show that squarely sits in the sci-fi genre,” until now. To support the series, the network is launching a “Transportation Domination” initiative that will send branded “Colony” vehicles across San Diego’s Gaslamp District, along with costumed ambassadors for the drama.
“The thought was, how can we create a visual spectacle for this show that feels very themed and appropriate to the show? Some of the big, iconic effects of ‘Colonized’ L.A. are that pedestrian vehicles are primarily replaced with bikes and military vehicles. Your streets are populated with these fatigue-wearing ‘Redhats,’ and the thought was if this is what occupied L.A. looks like, how can you bring those iconic images to San Diego? It was through that this Transportation Domination was conceived,” she explains.
Set in the very near future, “Colony” centers on one family’s struggle to survive and bring liberty back to the people of an occupied Los Angeles. Holloway stars as former FBI agent Will Bowman and Callies stars as his wife, Katie. After being separated from their middle son during the invasion, Will and Katie are willing to do whatever is necessary to be reunited with him. So when the powerful Proxy Snyder (Peter Jacobson) offers Will a chance to get his son back if he will collaborate with the occupational government, Will and Katie find themselves faced with the toughest decision of their lives.
To support the “Transportation Domination” scheme, USA has partnered with Uber to offer Comic-Con attendees complimentary rides in a fleet of branded “Colony” military vehicles and SUVs, which can be requested via the Uber app under a special “Colony” option from July 9-11, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Fans can also enter for a chance to win an Uber ride with “Colony” creators Cuse and Ryan Condal by following @ColonyUSA on Twitter and using the hashtags #ColonySDCC #UberColonySweeps.
In addition to the retro-fitted SUVs and Pinzgauers (street-legal military vehicles designed to look like those in the show), the streets will also be populated by “Colony” branded pedicabs and bikes from San Diego’s DecoBike bikeshare program, as well as an army of the series’ Transitional Authority enforcers, known as the “Redhats,” who will patrol the Gaslamp District, recruiting fans to collaborate using the hashtag #RedhatRewards on Twitter and issuing postcards for “Redhat rewards” that can be redeemed at local retailers for free food.
For Shapiro, the annual fan convention is an integral marketing opportunity both thanks to its timing and its opportunity to reach consumers and press in one place: “In these on-the-ground activations, you’re getting an engaged following of superfans who have incredible fanbases, and if you can engage them in the right way, their word-of-mouth and influence on behalf of your show is invaluable and priceless,” she notes. “But what also plays is for the press… all the outlets are in one place at one time, they’re gonna see first looks of the pilot episode. We’re showing 11 minutes of the pilot at the panel… So the ability to be able to activate the press machine but also the consumers who are there, and also the ability to cast a much wider net using the social infrastructure… is why Comic-Con is such an incredible marketing venue.”
The show’s Comic-Con panel takes place Friday, July 10, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 6BCF, with a pilot screening and Q&A scheduled Saturday, July 11, at the Horton Grand Theatre at 12 p.m. “Colony” is a co-production between Legendary Television and Universal Cable Productions.