A Lighthearted Take on USA Network’s Gritty TV Series
If you have a television show filled with intense violence and gore, how do you construct an immersive, participatory fan experience based on the world of the show?
You could, as did AMC TV’s The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead this year at San Diego Comic-Con, place fans inside a faux meat grinder to appear to be ground up like human hamburger meat. Charming.
Or you could go a different way, and offer a lighthearted, tongue-in-check take on the program’s violent premise. That was the approach taken by USA Network at Comic-Con 2018 for The Purge, the network’s forthcoming TV series based on the film franchise about the annual 12-hour period during which all crime is legal.
Purge City, developed by creative agency Campfire in conjunction with Blumhouse Productions and USA Network, presented a retail outlet to provide a full range of tools and services for the annual Purge Night.
Surrounded by a balloon arch, the cheerful Purge City storefront sported a multi-colored logo with a passing resemblance to party supply chain Party City. The logo’s blood-red dripping letter “i” hinted that things may not be so cheery inside.
The text beneath the logo read “Your One-Stop Shop for the Perfect Purge Night.” And, indeed, inside the shelves were stocked with displays of Purge Night accoutrements. Defensive items included body armor, camouflage, 12-hour emergency purge candles, barbed wire. Less sinister were items where “tradition meets fun”: bumper stickers, t-shirts, and blue baptisia leis.
A demonstration of Purge Away detergent (or, as its termed, “depurgent”) for cleaning up the mess after the story’s annual bacchanal of crime was more lighthearted than horrifying. The perky demonstrator used a restrained blue rather than the expected blood red to illustrate the product’s cleaning ability.
A popular aspect of Comic-Con is the swag. Everyone likes free souvenirs and tchotchkes. At Purge City, fans were given $20 in Purge Bucks that could be spent on an array of items at the store, including logoed attire, buttons, and bumper magnets. The more ominous items such as razor wire or body armor were, however, only for display.
This approach cleverly reinforced the conceit of the activation — that you were in a store shopping for supplies for the annual purge — and gave fans the option to select their own takeaways.
The Purge City experience offered a playful take on a intense drama. The Purge debuts on USA Network on September 4, 2018.
For a photo gallery from the Purge City marketing experience, see Purge City: San Diego Comic-Con 2018: