Unpacking Euphoria’s Experimental Marketing Strategy
March 8th, 2022
By: Miranda Soong
Summoning all fans of the hit HBO TV series Euphoria… After that grand season 2 finale last week, I think we can all agree that there’s a lot to unpack. But don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers here!
From the stunning visuals to the emotionally gripping scenes, Euphoria is truly a piece of art and is currently a stand-out TV series in the television industry and popular culture. Although this show drew in thousands to tune in due to its talented cast and striking storytelling, Euphoria’s massive success largely comes from its extensive content and marketing strategy. Euphoria is in a unique pocket of television that’s been quite uncharted––one where Gen Z now demands and engages in new, non-traditional marketing techniques. With its focus on heavy subject topics combined with the free-spirited energy of the teenage years, this show excels at appealing to Gen Z by utilizing various channel streams to promote the show and its captivating fictional atmosphere.
Visual Aesthetics Establish its Social Brand
Euphoria is immediately associated with its visual aesthetic, stemming from the mesmerizing cinematography and color palette––but especially, their makeup and costume design. Known for their bold graphic eyeliner, glittery makeup looks, and unique wardrobe pieces, the characters in Euphoria have distinct personas recognizable to any Gen Z social media user. Due to the glance into Euphoria’s experimental makeup looks by the show’s makeup designer, Doniella Davy, audiences have taken outreach to a whole new level by recreating makeup and costume looks from the show all over social media. TikTok has become a major platform that houses these recreations and new iterations––a creative outlet for inspired viewers to share their favorite looks. Davy describes Season 2’s main focus for the makeup design to be “emotional glam,” in which she experimented with a more subtle approach that still resembles aspects from Season 1’s rhinestone-studded looks. Fans have taken inspiration from this style and have essentially cemented Euphoria’s vivid and radical image through trends that have manifested out of their heightened engagement with the show’s aesthetics.
By providing an inside perspective into the backstories of each makeup look, Davy is able to further promote Euphoria’s brand and bring more insight into the characters’ storylines and emotions. This isn’t a common marketing tactic within the television industry right now, as audiences rarely hear much from the production crew and staff––the people who essentially make the show come alive. Thus, Euphoria is a leading example of how a show can take its cinematography and makeup/wardrobe design, uplift its behind-the-scenes work, and passively let its fans transform their aesthetics into a social media phenomenon.
Check out Doniella Davy’s Instagram, @donni.davy, to see all of the iconic makeup looks from the show!
Social Content Centered Around Cast & Gen Z
Euphoria’s public presence is generally associated with Gen Z culture. The show’s digital marketing strategy is centered around the internet’s ever-evolving popular culture, which is cultivated by Gen Z trends and behaviors. Their overall fan engagement is completely off the charts, with Twitter stating that Euphoria is the “most-tweeted-about TV show of the decade so far in the U.S.––with more than 30 million tweets related to the show during the second season, up 51% compared with season 1.” On TikTok, #Euphoria has 34.9 billion views alone, plus millions of other views on other non-tagged content. Their presence is extremely solidified on social media and only continues to grow. For the show’s overall marketing, HBO’s VP of Digital Strategy, Emily Giannusa, utilizes what she calls the “always-on” social strategy centered on YouTube and Instagram, as a method to “inspire FOMO and catch-up.” With adaptability to how fans respond to each week’s episode, Giannusa stresses the importance of staying flexible with the show’s online voice throughout the show’s airing and campaign.
The show’s Instagram and YouTube channels both have extremely curated content for their Gen Z audience. All of Euphoria’s social media accounts use non-capitalization, no punctuation, and internet slang, meshing their tone with exactly how their fans communicate. On Twitter, fans love to comment on the characters’ actions and of the show’s portrayal of the typical high school experience through memes. On Instagram, dozens of behind-the-scenes, candid, and portrait photos of each character highlight the show’s emphasis on utilizing their insanely popular cast for promotion. The show’s marketing team doesn’t even need to constantly push out promotional materials for each episode each week; instead, they just release a sequence of stylistic, film-aesthetic photos and stills from the show with simplistic captions and quotes from the characters to feed fan anticipation for the upcoming episode. Additionally, Euphoria releases short promotional videos for each episode on their YouTube channel, along with a wide variety of content and series, such as breakdowns of specific scenes and shots from the show, cast interviews in the series “unfiltered” and “enter euphoria,” and “visualizers” for different songs on the official soundtrack. Euphoria’s marketing strategy of adapting to Gen Z culture and the openness of their behind-the-scenes work appeals to this “unfiltered,” raw approach to promotion that aligns extremely well with the show’s overall vibe.
Sound Shapes the Scene
Euphoria would not be Euphoria without its iconic soundtrack and musical score. Musician Labrinth composed the musical score for the show, infusing electronic music with soft hums, gospel, R&B, melodic house, hip-hop, soul, and smooth jazz––creating an iconic sound that’s synonymous with Euphoria. For the snippets of songs featured this past season, Music Supervisor Jen Malone said how there are no restrictions on what music she can include. Bringing in catalog music filled with many classics of older generations, Malone expresses how all the music featured in the show aids the story along in various ways.
In addition to the brilliant musical score, Euphoria’s accompanying musical collaborations both complement the show’s storyline and further expand the show’s reach into the music industry and popular culture. For Season 1, Billie Eilish and Rosalía collaborated on “Lo Vas A Olvidar,” a single for the season’s soundtrack. Season 2 then introduced a new character to the ensemble, Elliot, played by artist Dominic Fike. With Zendaya and Labrinth’s composition, Zendaya and Dominic Fike recently released “Elliot’s Song,” the studio version of the song featured in the Season 2 finale episode. By bringing in talent directly from the music industry, Euphoria is able to attract those artists’ fan bases and reach a wider audience as the music and television industries merge together.
The Non-Traditional Approach to Marketing Can Work
Euphoria’s overwhelming hype and success is fascinating to break down because it is heavily rooted in its aesthetic brand, online voice and presence, additional content, and iconic musical projects. Using a flexible, Gen-Z-relatable, and grounded approach to marketing, the show has successfully been able to establish its brand image and increase its fan base. With the recent renewal for Season 3, the anticipation for the show will only continue to grow because of how much its iconic atmosphere has integrated into popular culture. Now, we’ll just have to wait patiently for the next episode…
About the Author
Miranda Soong is one of the Co-Content Directors this semester. She is a sophomore at NYU, pursuing Economics and Marketing with a minor in the Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology.