HBO’s rolling out a new brand campaign centered around the idea that the channel is “what connects us.” To help demonstrate this idea of connectivity, it gathered up 61 stars from its numerous shows and had them do their best interpretation of the “ahh” that accompanies the staticky prelude HBO places before each show. It’s neat, if only for the fact that each actor is in full costume and—as much as they can be for half of a second—in full character.
There’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Jaime Lannister, ahhing at his golden hand. There’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Selina Meyer, being told how to ahh by Tony Hale’s embattled Gary. Dwayne Johnson, Lena Dunham, Issa Rae, and even Big Bird are there, too, all in character.
According to this piece in AdAge, the ad was recorded in multiple locations over the course of four months to accommodate everyone’s shooting schedules. It included some thoughts from the ad’s creative director David Horowitz: “We thought of this literally and figuratively as a harmony of all those characters—that’s what the chord represents. It’s the voice of the channel. The reason you anticipate something great is that collective identity. You’re so used to seeing that [opener] before a great moment that when you see it before a new show, you’re already expecting something of a certain caliber.”
If these all sound like cocktail words, you’re not alone. John Oliver improvised the rant below and, as a means of satiating HBO’s more cynical viewers, it was integrated into the marketing as well.
“It’s impressive if it isn’t some form of corporate bullying,” Oliver concludes.
Hey, can’t it be both?