Awkwafina is able to add “Voice of the 7 Train” to their formidable list of hits thanks to a Comedy Central campaign for the debut of Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens that pulled out all the stops.
“If there’s a show that relies on local pride, we know we have to double that,” says Comedy Central VP, Digital Marketing Kayla Moriarty.
In this case, the network got particularly ambitious, making Awkwafina the voice of the 7 train of the New York subway system that travels through the heart of Queens. The first stunt of its kind, backed by an extensive social campaign, sparked major national media and helped the network make a blockbuster premiere in the age of streaming.
“When we looked at New York and Queens in particular, the subway is an icon and keeps popping up,” says Sara Eaton, Consumer Marketing at vp. “Something like that couldn’t work for any other city.”
Comedy Central was faced with a conundrum inherent in many innovative plans: determining whether it was actually possible to prevail. The network wasn’t sure if the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority would approve the activation, yet still had to secure the star of the show’s participation.
“We loved this idea and wanted to exhaust all possibilities to implement it,” says Eaton. Fortunately, the MTA was on board with the idea and Awkwafina was enthusiastic about the concept. At the end she uttered a unique line for each stop: “This is Times Square-42nd Street where New Yorkers relax” and “This is 69th Street that is definitely not funny in any way” on the 7th train .
“If we’d just taken lines from the show and tried to run it on the subways, it wouldn’t have worked,” Eaton explains. “Our creative team wrote each of these readings. They were so funny and we worked very closely with them to write them in a voice that was appropriate for the MTA and the audience and the voice of the show. “
Awkwafina’s voice on the 7-passenger train caused a sensation not just in New York but across the country, adding over $ 10 million in additional media value and 36 million media impressions. Comedy Central is based on the buzz with targeted ads on all major social media channels as well as streamers like Hulu, Roku and Spotify.
When Awkwafina later won a Golden Globe for her appearance on The Farewell, Comedy Central tweeted the occasion with an ad for the show. The buzz sparked by the win, social push, and 7-move stunt resulted in 3.8 million viewers watching the debut of Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens. That made it Comedy Central’s biggest premiere since 2016, and the most social prime-time comedy in comedy, according to Nielsen Social Ranker, who measures overall interaction between three hours before and three hours after a show airs, measuring Central’s story.
Comedy Central has found ways to be disruptive throughout the campaign, including a sequential YouTube campaign that focuses on a full episode running as a skippable pre-roll ad, followed by non-skippable ads with Awkwafina, depending on whether viewers skip the preroll ad. Those who skipped received a non-skippable FOMO-based ad with critical praise for the show, and those who didn’t see Awkwafina (as Nora) reminded them to tune in.
“No matter how big or small your campaign is, if you can catch lightning in a bottle with a disruptive marketing tactic, it can work a lot harder and feel a lot bigger to you than you plan to,” says Comedy Central svp. Consumer Marketing Shawn Silverman says. – Eric Oster