The days of flogging TV shows just by buying out every subway ad in New York are long gone. Now, you’ve gotta flood the Web with “Online exclusives!” and pimp out your brand to middling chains and get your stars to humiliate themselves in the pages of Star magazine every other week; People the rest of the time. It can be a nauseating world.
A much tamer, but still unconventional, marketing strategy comes courtesy of Showtime. For the third year in a row, Showtime — purveyor of cultish hits like Weeds, Dexter, and Californication — has hired a raft of designers to throw together a sort of multimedia funhouse/interior decorating showcase inspired by characters from seven of the station’s original series.
Strewn over three penthouses in the Cassa Hotel and Residences in Times Square, you’ve got everything from a creepy neon sanctuary and veiled “contemplation room” by the New York designers Marc Thorpe and Hush Studios (up top and above, referencing The Borgias) to pulpy wall illustrations by graphic design hero Bruce Mau. Visitors pay $15 to tour the place, with proceeds benefiting the Harlem Children’s Zone.
So in a nut: Showtime is using charity to lure people to what’s basically a 3-D billboard for its programs masquerading as high design. As sneaky marketing goes, it sure beats another David Duchovny sex scandal.
The Showtime House opens tomorrow. It’ll be open every Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., through October 24. For more info, go here.