HBO Launches Privacy App to Promote Westworld

In order to promote the new season, HBO's new 'app' focuses on using easily-readable public information to build a personal profile.

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Need to Know

  • HBO launched the iknowyou.app “privacy app” online to promote the new season of its hit series Westworld.
  • HBO is known for pulling experiential marketing stunts out of its back pockets, like VR filters for Snapchat and live show recreations at SXSW.
  • The app asks for your Instagram username so that it can collect data about your “perfect life,” perfect career, and where you fit in the world.

Analysis

HBO is once again playing with experiential marketing to promote its new season of Westworld, which will premiere this week on March 15.

The massive entertainment brand has partnered with Goodstuph to create “iknowyou.app”, an online application that “charts your path” based on publicly available information from Instagram.

The ‘About’ section spells out the “mission” for Incite Inc., a fake company and a preview of the season for the sci-fi Western:

“Are you living your best life? By the time you retire, you’ll have switched careers seven times. By the time you find love, you’ll have been in seven to eight relationships, and have had your heart broken twice. Is the world the best place it can be? In the past 3,400 years, humanity has been at war 92 percent of the time. Wars have killed over 108 million people in the 20th century alone. By the time we reach 2100, the global temperature will be 10 degrees higher. The ice caps will melt and the rainforests will be deserts. Incite believes we can chart a path to a better future, for you and for our world. Our values are your values. Let us find your path.”

The app starts by asking three yes-or-no questions that feel reminiscent of an alternate sci-fi universe: “Your decisions map your destiny. Have you ever made a decision you now regret? Let us use your data to find your path.”

Of course, Incite Inc. is fake, but the questions feel very real—as does the story provided for context around the difficulty of the world. “Life doesn’t have to be,” says the app. “The future is powered by you. Incite is different. We can protect our climate and find you a career that you can be excited about. With Incite, the only choice you’ll have to make, is us.”

The results? A robotic voice spelled out this writer’s name, primary residence, partner, and the emoji that most represents them. Of course, all of that information is publicly available, but the lead up is certainly quite ominous. 

HBO has previously set up many PR “stunts” and experiential marketing opportunities to draw people to the franchise, especially due to the lagging interest during their 16-month season breaks. One included a full-scale recreation of Westworld 30 minutes away from SXSW, another created VR filters for the His Dark Materials show.

Part of HBO’s strategy is engaging superfans and creating content outside of the show to keep fans engaged and talking about these worlds like in Westworld, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Game of Thrones. 

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