Until now, Tru Blood was nothing more than a good idea on an addictive TV show called True Blood. In case you’ve been stuck under a rock recently, Tru Blood, the drink, is the central conceit of HBO’s wildly popular series: a synthetic blood-drink invented by Japanese scientists that allows vampires to enter mainstream society without fear of them gorging on hapless humans.
But all that changed last week at Comic-Con, when Tru Blood was launched as a real product – a bona fide drink made of blood orange (naturally) though sans haemoglobin, for the non-vampires of this world. Available from September 10 in your local bar and for pre-order online now, although only in the USA.
It is a stroke of marketing genius mixed with a healthy dollop of business acumen. It inverts the traditional notion of product placement, and becomes all the more coveted because of its previous non-existence. Dare I say it: Tru Blood the drink represents the very future of advertising – unpaid media.
Imagine all the fake vampirism this drink will spawn: Facebook pictures, Youtube videos, and endless blog posts. Why buy media space when you can sell something that people will willing create content around, all the while turning a tidy profit for HBO?
Now this strategy is obviously not going to work for every fictitious product ever invented for TV and cinema. But it does prove that HBO realises that they are no longer confined to the screen. Creating culture in today’s world means being present in people’s lives in whatever way you can, even if it means entering the drinks business.