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E! Uses Grammy Weekend to Launch Mysterious Marketing Campaign for ‘The Arrangement’

Eagle-eyed pop culture fans in New York this weekend witnessed a mysterious stunt for the second season of E!’s Hollywood drama “The Arrangement.”

On Saturday, Jan. 27 and Sunday, Jan. 28, key questions the characters in the show deal with were projected onto New York City hot spots surrounding Grammy weekend’s biggest events.

The lines read, “Would you sign your life away for fame?”, “Is the limelight worth your life?” and “Beware of the Institute for the Higher Mind” (with a triangle where the “a” in “beware” should be). Those lines all center on the Institute for the Higher Mind, the “self help” organization to which actor Kyle West (Josh Henderson) belongs in the show and which helped him contract Megan (Christine Evangelista) into a relationship.

“This stunt is one of many campaign elements that all tie back to ‘The Arrangement’ theme of an up-and-coming young actress’ journey to the heights of Hollywood fame and love — the lengths one will go in order to keep that fame and what those sacrifices mean both professionally and personally,” Jennifer Neal, executive vice president of marketing and executive producer of live events at E!, tells Variety.

Even though the characters within the show are actors, not musicians, Neal says Grammy weekend was the perfect setting for such a stunt.

“Executing this stunt during Grammy weekend — surrounding one of the biggest and edgiest pop culture events of the year — felt like a perfect fit to reach that pop culture-obsessed demographic who crave the inside scoop on Hollywood, regardless of specific entertainment category,” she says.

Some of the places the projections were seen included the Sheraton Times Square Hotel during the Clive Davis party, the Citibank building in Union Square, the Marriott Marquis during the Grammy after party, and Spring Place during Universal Music Group’s after party.

E! also purchased select search terms — such as “The Institute” and “double triangle” — so that anyone who headed to Google for answers were led to an ad telling them to catch up on the first season.

“Our focus is always to stand out but it’s never about creating buzz for buzz’s sake,” says Neal. “Everything we do as part of a campaign has to be consistent with an overall message to compel fans to watch.”

The hope is the campaign not only reinforces fans of the first season, but brings new viewers to the second season. Neal and her team will track the number of times the specific words were searched within the timeframe of the projections, and from there they hope to see a correlation to new streams of Season 1. “The Arrangement” was one of the top new shows of 2017 within the 18-34 female demographic.

While Neal says the target demo for the show is more generally “young adults who love fast-paced, mysterious and complicated dramas,” she wanted to do a stunt that would reach a wide array of people — and she also has seen great value in creating campaigns that speak to the core demo.

Last season, E! took advantage of opportune timing with the current season of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” creating an Institute video that spoke to specific contestants, offering them a chance to enter into a celebrity contract marriage — just like Kyle and Megan’s impending one — if they didn’t end up with the final rose.

“In a crowded entertainment landscape, we know our efforts need to be distinct and truly organic to pique the interest of our desired fan base,” Neal says.

Social media makes up a large portion of E!’s campaign around “The Arrangement.” Though the purchased Google search terms were tied geographically to New York, Neal says the track record of previous campaigns left the network confident this one would deliver, too. “Previous out-of-the-box, socially-charged marketing efforts for this show have been successful and we wanted to continue that trend,” Neal says.

Neal cites a recent initiative on Twitter in which Michael Vartan, who plays the Institute’s founder Terence Anderson, recorded over 175 personalized videos encouraging fans to join the organization.

“‘The Arrangement’ is a truly original series — a mysterious, complicated and dark Hollywood love story fueled by questions surrounding one’s past and the true price of fame,” Neal says. “Like the show itself, the campaign for this show has to be just as unique and ominous to personify the depth of the series and to create further intrigue.”

“The Arrangement” Season 2 premieres Mar. 11 at 9 p.m. on E!

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