Fox has unveiled key art for its upcoming Kevin Williamson drama The Following – a dark and graphic psychological thriller about a serial killer (James Purefoy) and the flawed FBI agent on his trail (Kevin Bacon). The show is being compared to a cable drama with its actor-ly auspices (it is Bacon’s first television series), dark subject matter and slasher motif. And the network already has rolled out an atypical marketing campaign including somewhat graphic key art of a mostly naked woman with words from Edgar Allan Poe written on her skin and aiming an ice-pick at her eye. (There’s also G-rated key art.)
And beginning this Sunday during Fox’s NFL broadcast, Fox will launch a week-long promo roadblock that will feature four different spots designed to drive viewers to the network’s Following landing page where they’ll find two exclusive trailers – one approved for “All Audiences” and one rated “Intense” with a lot more blood.
Fox actually began marketing The Following in early October, more than three months before its Jan. 21 premiere, with a teaser campaign that included still art and living one-sheets with phrases meant to confure the show’s cult themes: “Even Serial Killers Have Friends”; “Do I Look Like a Killer?” There were also spots in Fox’s coverage of the World Series and in theaters before like-themed movies including Paranormal Activity 4.
These was also a Halloween street team campaign where people costumed as the naked ice-pick lady roamed the streets in several cities including West Hollywood, Chicago and San Francisco. (The marketing was canceled in New York, Boston and Philadelphia due to the damage from Hurricane Sandy.)
Marketing a show with such intense content on broadcast television is a “challenge,” says Joe Earley, Fox Broadcasting COO. Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, but the marketing efforts also strive to highlight the show’s thriller and police procedural aspects.
“We don’t want people to get the wrong idea that it’s horror,” Earley told The Hollywood Reporter. The pull quote on the key art extolling the show as "the best new show of the season" was very strategic.
“The quote is more about the quality and intensity of [The Following]," said Earley. "And obviosly Kevin Bacon’s name is hugely valuable and also makes clear to people the quality of the project. He wouldn’t be doing a horror TV show.”