Inside Showtime’s Huge Experiential Marketing Push for The L Word: Generation Q

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Fans of The L Word will soon see characters such as Bette (Jennifer Beals), Alice (Leisha Hailey) and Shane (Kate Moennig) grace their screens again in The L Word: Generation Q, Showtime’s reboot of the drama series that premieres Sunday.

To celebrate the return of the series—which follows the lives of a group of lesbians, bisexual women and queer young people in Los Angeles—Showtime has launched a wide-ranging experiential marketing campaign, from consumer events and product collaborations to pop-up shops and branded travel excursions.

The campaign kicked off with advance screenings of the first episode in partnership with LGBTQ media platform Them in Brooklyn and the queer film festival Frameline at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, followed by discussions with series creator Ilene Chaiken. The San Francisco event also included a preview screening of Showtime’s new comedy series Work in Progress.

Showtime partnered with L.G.B.T.Q. media platform Them to host a screening in Brooklyn on Dec. 3.

Ahead of Sunday’s premiere, events have also included a Vulture- and Grub Street-sponsored community party in partnership with Brooklyn’s inclusive community gathering Queer Soup Night, a live taping of the Autostraddle podcast To L and Back at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and a Bustle-sponsored Friendsgiving event in Los Angeles with food and drinks inspired by the series.

According to Michael Engleman, CMO of Showtime, the network chose a large-scale experiential campaign for the series’ return because it felt “right for the media moment we’re in, but also right for the ethos of the show. Experiential marketing is really useful when you’re dealing with personal, authentic storytelling that’s organic to The L Word.”

Other elements of the campaign include an installation for the series at Refinery29’s latest iteration of 29Rooms, which runs today through Dec. 15 in Brooklyn. The installation aims to transport guests to the series’ setting of L.A. with a Q-shaped pool, pink palm trees, heat lamps and a poolside playlist.

And for the premiere on Sunday, the network has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign to host 25 screening events across the U.S., including Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Houston, where attendees will receive branded merchandise.

Showtime worked with OMD Create to produce the advance screenings and premiere events, the themed parties in New York and L.A., and the 29Rooms installation.

The campaign includes a colorful L.A.-inspired installation at Refinery29’s 29Rooms in Brooklyn.
Getty Images for Refinery29’s 29Rooms

The campaign also involves product collaborations in 2020 that aim to sustain the reboot’s momentum. Showtime partnered with The Phluid Project, a gender-neutral clothing company, to create a co-branded capsule collection that will be sold at pop-ups in Los Angeles, New York and Portland, Ore. throughout January. The stores will also host screenings, tarot card readings and trivia nights.

Additionally, Showtime collaborated with TomboyX to create co-branded underwear to debut next year, which is worn by Sarah Finley (Jacqueline Toboni), one of four new main characters in the series.

The final part of the campaign involves Showtime’s partnership with Olivia, a travel company that targets lesbian customers, which is a continuation from the original series, which aired from 2004-2009.

In May 2020, The L Word: Generation Q Caribbean Resort Vacation will whisk travelers to Club Med in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The weeklong experience includes themed pool parties, music and comedy shows, and meet-and-greets with cast members. Showtime and Olivia will also launch a branded cruise in 2021.

Engleman explained that forging community and meaningful interaction among old and new fans of The L Word was one of the driving forces behind developing the concepts for the campaign.

“Part of loving The L Word is connecting with this frothy, escapist and personal show. And part of that is being part of a community of people who love the show,” Engleman said. “Everything is intended to find a forum or platform that would help people who love The L Word connect with one another.”

The L Word: Generation Q is part of Showtime’s effort to increase programming by 30% this year and expand its content output in 2020.

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