Capitalizing on Conspiracy: Decoding Mr. Robot

Since its inception in 2015, USA Network’s Mr. Robot has grown to fill more than its weekly hour time slot, at least in the lives of its biggest fans. By breaking the mold of traditional TV show promotion, Mr. Robot has become definitive of a culture of curious skeptics willing to embrace conspiracies and dig for answers.

The show itself, which tells the story of Elliot Alderson, an anti-social hacker with severe personality disorders who wages cyber warfare against the world’s largest conglomerate, parallels existing conspiracies about an unseen world order and massive corporate greed. Whether the show attracts viewers who already subscribe to such conspiracies or whether its eerily plausible plot turns viewers on to them, Mr. Robot’s team of marketers aims to capitalize on its fandom’s inquisitive and even obsessive tendencies.

Mr. Robot’s most notable experiential marketing endeavors include constructing alternate realities based on a post-fsociety dystopia and welcoming fans to the Bank of E before an advanced screening of the Season Three premiere, complete with an fsociety invasion and protesters waiting outside the doors.

Fans wait outside the Bank of E before an advanced screening of the Season 3 premier.

While these special events provide an experience for a select number of super fans, the team of marketers has taken steps to make the world of Mr. Robot a staple in the lives of every fan, every day.

The launch of the E-Coin website offers average fans, conspiracy buffs and coding whizzes the perfect platform to nerd-out over the show. With flash giveaways and exclusive sneak peaks all housed on a meticulously branded landing page powered by E Corp, the site keeps fans engaged around the clock, anxiously awaiting what Mr. Robot will drop on the site next. For those fans with the technological prowess to take it a step further, the code of the site itself has hidden in it clues and access to an even larger world of exclusive content.

Landing page of the Ecoin website.

The website is a superb example of an outreach strategy that deeply understands the psychology of its fans. The team behind Mr. Robot embraces conversations about the show taking place in nearly every corner of the Internet, encouraging fans to ask questions and come up with creative theories. In an article for Movie Pilot, Ricky Derisz goes deep into the comparison between how fan theories and conspiracy theories are developed. He ultimately concludes that the two are conjured in strikingly similar ways, which is what makes Mr. Robot and its embedded marketing strategies so effective with the fan base.

Mr. Robot is a unique show that has the advantage of being almost unsettlingly culturally relevant and timely, but what can other TV marketers or marketers from any field learn from these strategies? Should marketing across the board strive to feed into its audience’s obsession? Are there potential downfalls to strategies such as these that create alternate realities for people to dive into? Is this type of marketing only made more effective due to a generational distrust in the government and the so-called world authorities?

The questions raised by Mr. Robot‘s marketing practices do not have simple answers.

One thing is certain, if you’re not watching Mr. Robot, you can’t know what you’re missing.

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