Mar 19, 2021

By Kelby Clark
A coordinated, cross-platform initiative from ViacomCBS’ flagship brands capped off a weeks-long mega-campaign for the launch of the new streamer.

If you tuned into Nickelodeon on March 4, you likely saw ads for Kamp Koral, the new SpongeBob SquarePants spinoff series on Paramount+. That day on CBS This Morning, you also may have spotted the Paramount+ logo on Gayle King’s coffee mug. Or maybe you saw the entire Jersey Shore cast on Twitter, talking about their show’s debut on ViacomCBS’ new streaming service.

All were part of the company’s cross-platform, cross-brand promotion for its new streaming service. For more than 13 weeks, starting with Super Bowl LV on CBS, all of ViacomCBS' flagship brands rallied together and showcased the full breadth of the company’s portfolio.

“The launch day stunt gave us the opportunity to really emphasize ViacomCBS’ unique reach and scale, which sets us apart from our competitors," says Adele Plumail, SVP of cross-company marketing at ViacomCBS. “There’s something for everyone in our content, and now there’s something for everyone on Paramount+. We also got the opportunity to show up as a combined company in a way that hasn’t been seen before, delivering 3 billion impressions across platforms.”

The March 4 stunt culminated in more than 1,400 promos running across the company’s TV networks—BET, BET Her, CBS, CBSN, CBS Sports, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, VH1, Logo, CMT, TV Land, Smithsonian Channel, Paramount Network, Pop TV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, and Teen Nick. Each brand featured custom Paramount+ lower thirds driving to the service throughout the day. Promo spots across free, ad-supported service Pluto TV earned 2 million impressions per day during the week of March 1.

Additionally, more than 430 social media posts were published across company-affiliated accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, with posts from Paramount+ owned-and-operated accounts generating 9.5 million impressions and 18.6 million video views across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram specifically. Also, a special YouTube livestream activation featuring 27 different branded channels reached 81.3 million subscribers.

Here’s a roundup of the campaign’s major highlights across platforms:


A Unified Approach Across Linear

It was a concerted effort to lean into each brand’s iconic, fan-favorite shows debuting on Paramount+. This initiative spanned ViacomCBS’ traditional cable and broadcast networks, including CBS, CBS News, CBS Sports, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, Smithsonian Channel, BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, and more.

Across its nine leading channels, MTV Entertainment Group held movie and show marathons between March 3 and March 5 that included Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central; The Real World, Jersey Shore on MTV and MTV2; Bar Rescue and CBS comedy Mom on Paramount Network; Air Disasters on Smithsonian Channel; Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team on CMT; NCIS: New Orleans on Pop TV; and Younger on TV Land, the final season of which premieres on Paramount+ this year. Trevor Noah integrated unique call outs throughout the week in The Daily Social Distancing Show on Comedy Central, where a sample of P+ Original, Lower Decks also aired within Wednesday’s animation block.

“You couldn’t miss Paramount+ across MTV Entertainment Group channels on launch day,” says Kate Keough, SVP of brand marketing and events for MTV Entertainment Group. “We worked closely with our programming team to create the channel marathons but also to program Paramount+ ads that aired all throughout the day. With 75% of our inventory devoted to promoting the launch, we were able to reach approximately 95% of our audience that day.”

Nickelodeon and sister channels TeenNick, Nicktoons, and Nick Jr. also ran marathons spotlighting fan-favorite IP, including SpongeBob SquarePants, iCarlyHenry Danger, The Fairly OddParentsPAW Patrol, Hey Arnold!, and Rugrats. Audiences were also treated to special sneak peeks of new, original programming debuting on Paramount+, including Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run.

Several in-show integrations supported the launch as well, particularly across CBS. Audiences on The Price Is Right and Let’s Make A Deal competed for prize packages that included a free, one-year subscription to the new streaming service. The Talk and CBS This Morning aired interviews with The Real World: Homecoming cast, while anchors talked about Paramount+ on national and local CBS News programming and across CBS Sports Network programming which featured a subscription giveaway for viewers. Across late-night TV, news of the service’s launch was also hard to miss with The Late Show host Stephen Colbert and James Corden, host of the The Late Late Show, shouting out Paramount+ during their live shows.

“What we did was unique to us at CBS, just as what Nickelodeon did or BET did was unique to them. But it was all in service of the same goal,” says Mike Benson, president and chief marketing officer at CBS.

“Across CBS, we couldn't really go in and rearrange our schedule to do marathons, because we’re mid-season with new episodes of several new shows,” Benson adds. “For us, it was more about taking advantage of bulk audiences to market Paramount+, as well as getting talent involved to do really creative integrations that highlight the value of the new service. And with the Grammys and March Madness coming up soon after, we're going to use those opportunities continue to push this.”

Strategic Social From ‘SpongeBob’ To ‘Reno 911!'

In addition to social support from the brands throughout launch day, unique activations across social channels got audiences excited about what was available on Paramount+.

On Twitter, Paramount+ launched a voice activation that allowed people to tweet audio of memorable quotes from its shows and movies, including Rugrats, The Godfather, and Jersey Shore. Nickelodeon called on fans to vote for their favorite show set to debut on the streamer, including SpongeBob SquarePants and iCarly, among others on Instagram Stories. The prize went to SpongeBob.

“We have a humongous audience on social media that already raises their hands to say, ‘I love SpongeBob,’” says Samantha Meiler, Nickelodeon’s head of social media. “These are teens and adults who grew up watching the show as kids, and now that the show’s library is coming to Paramount+ and they can easily watch episodes on-demand, we wanted to find fun and engaging ways to get them excited about that.”

"The launch day stunt gave us the opportunity to really emphasize ViacomCBS’ unique reach and scale, which sets us apart from our competitors."

Adele Plumail

SVP of Cross-Company Marketing at ViacomCBS

Across YouTube, 27 different company channels spotlighted Paramount+ in a special livestream event, featuring content relevant to series coming to the platform. Comedy Central’s channel, for example, featured “best moments” from Reno 911! and Key & Peele, while the Wild 'n Out-branded channel ran episode highlights. Pilot episodes from various Star Trek series were also featured on the Star Trek official channel. The live stream also included full episodes, with Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger channel featuring 48 hours of The Thundermans, and the Nick Rewind channel streaming 48 hours of iCarly.

The activation earned more than 3.6M total views across 27 channels and impressions totaled 71 million.

“We utilized the livestream product on YouTube to recreate a lean-back viewing experience that mirrored the marathons on cable,” says Tyler Hissey, SVP of digital marketing for MTV Entertainment Group. “This approach allowed us to engage captive, incremental audiences across our YouTube ecosystem with programming strategies that connected to content available on the service and Paramount+ promos embedded within the streams.”

Appealing To Free Streamers

Activations were not just limited to social media and linear TV―other parts of ViacomCBS’ streaming ecosystem were involved, too. On March 4, viewers of the leading free ad-supported streaming TV service, Pluto TV were offered a free 30-day trial of Paramount+, giving them even more access to ViacomCBS content, and were sent a mobile push notification letting them know about the debut of the new service and special offer.

Pluto TV also launched a Paramount+ Picks channel, which featured samplings of originals coming to the Paramount+ service and other library content. Ads promoting and upselling the Paramount+ service played in between the content previews. The channel was met with such great reception and as a result has now been extended beyond its original 30 day window.

“Our users really enjoy sampling new programming, which was what made the Paramount+ Picks channel so unique and exciting,” says Serge Gojkovich, head of content and partnership marketing at Pluto TV. “It was a great way to demonstrate the breadth and depth of content on Paramount+, for free.”

Pluto TV also programmed shows and movies from the new service’s library on its owned-and-operated channels, where ads that drove to the service were also woven into channel programming.

“We saw this as a great opportunity to be able to illustrate and bring to life one of our core propositions – the best across free and paid,” says Gojkovich. “With over 30 million domestic users on Pluto TV, we were uniquely positioned to tap into our loyal fanbase, creating and delivering a winning proposition for all - viewers and platforms alike.”

Related Articles