‘Better Call Saul’: Denizen’s Campaign Helped Fuel Record Bow

Just barely out of the womb, boutique TV promo agency Denizen landed one of the hottest new shows, AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” and crafted a trailer that blew up the already buzzy property.

Shifting interest from “Breaking Bad” to its offspring presented the first challenge. Just as important was dealing with the complications of a title evoking the well-known sleazy attorney, a person known as Jimmy, not Saul, in the prequel.

“One of the inherent challenges in the prequel is he had a different name, “ says David Gold, principal-creative at the barely year-old Studio City-based Denizen. “Why call Saul? We needed a moment early on that put that out.”

And they alerted potential viewers that they didn’t know Jimmy.

“Saul was the comic relief in ‘Breaking Bad.’ We needed to show a dark slant, how a regular lawyer rises up that ladder,” says fellow principal-creative Robert Mape of taking in the established fan base and building it out. “We put Jimmy in a Walter White position, a good guy who grows into what he was with Walter.”

“Saul” launched as the highest-rated scripted series in the 18-49 demo premiere in basic cable history. The trailer debuted six months before the February premiere and racked up more than a million views on YouTube. It’s been a quick trip for the fledging studio Denizen, which prides itself on its speedy delivery.

“I’ve been in TV promotion for decades,” Gold says. “Clients would rather see cuts over scripts. I’ve been on the client side,” says Gold, “and I know how to cut through red tape and bureaucracy that bogs down the creative process,” says Gold. There’s a little white Abominable Snowman-like monster peering around the middle of Denizen’s big purple logo, a nod to what the company’s all about.

“We’re aggressively creative,” Gold says.

Mape chimes in, comparing their style with urban street art. “We don’t do verbiage or graphics, we let the environment tell the story,” Mape says. “We want to miss long. We don’t want our clients to say they want more. We want them to say dial it back.”

For Mape, it goes back to his work at Trailer Park, where he learned the key to making a successful trailer.

“You is “don’t show a viewer what’s going to happen. You give them an idea of what’s going to happen and let them fill in the gap,” Mape says. “Then they want to find out if they are right or wrong.”

The mantra?

“Don’t show. Tantalize, so they’ll take the bait and watch.”

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