Silver Spoons: A Tale of Three PR Campaigns

Written by: Kendra Spring Klasek

It's been a busy PR week for two premium cable networks and one up-and-coming streaming network.  While most of us have been scurrying around preparing for Thanksgiving, HBO, Starz and Amazon have been releasing promotional teasers for their flagship series.

To paraphrase George Orwell, however, "Some PR campaigns are more equal than others."

Granted - each network has their own choices to make and how they disseminate their product.  Some choices have been thought provoking and effective. Some choices have been controversial but integral to garner buzz.  And then, some were just a tad underwhelming.

So let's start with the controversial choice:

Amazon's critically acclaimed new drama, about an alternate history in which the Axis Powers have won WWII and America has been divided under German and Japanese rule, is also their most expensive to date and, to be sure it stayed a talking point, they took it upon themselves to do a little re-decorating.

That is, they plastered Nazi and Imperial Japan insignia all over the New York City Subway's seats, forcing passengers to pick a side.

Photo courtesy:

New Yorkers were unamused.
In an article by Gothamist writer, Erik Baard, one commuter had this to say:
“Half the seats in my car had Nazi insignias inside an American flag, while the other half had the Japanese flag in a style like the World War II design,” said straphanger Ann Toback. “So I had a choice, and I chose to sit on the Nazi insignia because I really didn’t want to stare at it.” 
Toback said she doesn’t object to the TV show as a work of fiction, but insists, “I shouldn’t have to sit staring at a Nazi insignia on my way to work.”

In the end, it was an approach, albeit controversial, that implied the story.  

Japanese on the left, Germany on the right and neutral zone in the middle.  All altered to fit an American approach.

Everything you need to know about the show was right there.  Right in front of you.
Was this a sensitive approach by Amazon, especially in light of the current political climate in Europe and other parts of the world, reeling from recent attacks?
No way!
Was it effective? Hell, yes!  Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the subway ads taken down, but not before social media was buzzing with talk of the show.  How many new viewers did they gain by power of sheer morbid curiosity? We'll soon see.  But it raised the show's profile quite a bit.

Now - let's take a look at the thought provoking and (almost) perfect choice for a TEASER:
While all of the hoopla about The Man In The High Castle was going down in New York, HBO was getting ready to lay down it's Trump card.  Ladies and gents, I give you the nearly perfect teaser:
Photo courtesy: HBO
Any fan of the show doesn't need an explanation as to why this is such a huge reveal.  What's masterful about it is that while it seems to be tipping their hand pretty hard, there is zero context.  We have NO idea the direction they are going in any way, especially considering they've run out of source material and are now fully winging it.

But here's what's most important about this poster - it tells you everything you need to know about the next season in one image.  It implies mystery, sadness, tone, hope, narrative force, resolution, danger, intrigue, catharsis, validation, fanboy culture, all in a single frame.  Not to mention, it's gorgeous. 

Fans understand the context, and non fans can tell that something is afoot.

As a collective - we see an implied story.

When this hit the presses - it exploded.  But as much as it implies - it actually shows nothing.  It's just a picture.
In short . . . it's just enough.  It's not everything and we're still flying blind, but it's fantastic and can get us through to April.
Another thing to note . . . that April date.  HBO is working with the same kind of timeline that Starz is, but they know how to properly satiate their fans who are salivating for significant details.  With this bombshell reveal, fans now have at least 4 solid months to strengthen their theories and continue building the show's following.  If you're talking about plot and character, you're engaged.   

And then we have the underwhelming...

STARZ Outlander

We kept seeing #PeekAtParis all over Twitter and other social media during the days before Thanksgiving.  It built a ton of excitement and fervor for Paris. It was an inspired hashtag with an inspired idea.  Not only because of what happens in the book, but mainly because we last left our star crossed lovers leaving Scotland for Paris in the show.  

What awaits our beloved characters in Paris?!  We need to know!  We need our peek!  

This is how it started - and by the gods was it great:

Of course,  the Outlander fandom is rabid for ANY info because we simply love our characters with whom we've developed extremely personal relationships.  

Aside from that fandom fanaticism, however, #PeekAtParis worked because it teased what is so tantalizing about Paris and the situation in which Claire and Jamie find themselves as they try to course correct history.  It teased story, like the previous two PR campaigns.

But, in the end, this is what we got...
Photo courtesy: Outlander Starz

And this is what we got...

Photo courtesy: Outlander Starz
The culmination of  Starz' "big" reveal on Twitter? 

Dinner at Chez Fraser.  

Since the beginning of the week, photos, albeit beautiful ones, of various culinary delights have been tweeted by Starz leading up to Thanksgiving.  A plate of figs.  A lamb chop/meat pie/cranberry concoction.  A dinner plate . . . or rather, half a dinner plate, an overturned spoon and a knife. 

Outlander fans on Twitter, after having been pumped up by the tease of a #PeekAtParis, were a bit let down.  Is it understandable to be let down? For the rabid fan? Yes.  For the casual fan? Perhaps.
Photo courtesy: Outlander Starz
Again, this is all so so gorgeous . . . but it's not giving us anything we don't already know.  

Photo courtesy: Outlander Starz
We know that the sets are gorgeous because we've seen them.  We know the costumes are stunning because we saw the wedding dress in season one, and frankly, unless the dress is red, it's not revealing too much.  That's the one you want to hold back as your mic drop dress when the episode actually airs.
Anything else?  It's not too much!  Don't worry about giving us too much if it means you're going to give us a dinner tableau, instead.
Photo courtesy: Outlander Starz
Again, the details are stunning and we know Starz is going to get them just right.  
We KNOW they're spending money on the show.  We get that. 

What they DO need to worry about is making sure they get all those subscribers back that they lost by the time April comes knocking.  In other words - is pumping Twitter full of food porn (again, beautiful food porn) the way to go? 

What does it imply about the story?

Sadly - not a lot.  

We see obscured versions of Claire and Jamie with a bunch of people we DON'T know in a setting that is detailed yet oddly distant.  Does that imply we are just as foreign in France as Jamie and Claire? I think an argument can made for that.  

But again, the idea about a teaser is to tell us about the story to come - not what we'll be having for dinner or what a distinctly foreign environment would feel like.  They need to show us what the story will be (at least on a tertiary level.)

To Starz' credit, they may simply feel they don't have any new tricks up their sleeves because, unlike Game of Thrones, we actually HAVE read the source material already.  But that's just the thing . . . not all of their viewers have read the books.  Also in their back pocket, Ron D. Moore's admission that season two strays further from the book than season one.  So, yes . . . there are things, other than place settings, that they can tease us with.
Let's face it . . . we don't even know if Roger or Brianna will even be in season two, yet . . . or in what what capacity.  

What would've been great?  Major casting news!  A release date!  An outtake!  I've seen gifs from season 2; they have them on Tumblr.  

Why is this stuff being "leaked" and not released ON Starz?  Behind the scenes footage (we know they've got a ton in the can, already) interviews with the cast and crew?  Anything to reward viewers who are STILL their viewers, which will, in turn, entice former and new viewers into subscriber status.

 Fans would flip their wigs over something like that!

I don't have a marketing degree, so I'm not going to pretend I can solve Starz' dilemma.  But they have people on their payroll who do and who's job it should be to effectively engage fans.
Finally, I don't want to seem to be kicking Starz in the shins over this. I'm really not.  Everything about the images they've released is visually perfect and beautiful.  It's what this team shines at.  They've made a stunningly beautiful and remarkably shot program.  Furthermore, I know the cast and crew are still shooting this insanely detailed show, so it must take a lot of time for it to be created.

It's easy to infer that they have been working really hard to get us something. Anything.

A third option to consider is that #PeekAtParis was just a gift to all of the loyal viewers of Outlander.  They tied these photos in nicely with the idea of Thanksgiving and it was a cute play.  They give us a "taste" of the opulence and splendor of Paris.  

But was #PeekAt Paris the right choice? 

Probably not.

There is nothing uniquely French (to the common person like me) about these photos.  This could have just as easily been taken in England, Italy, Spain, or high class American Colonies. 

And even though it may have been a gift for Outlander fans, we have to inevitably take this a little bit further down the rabbit hole.  These are the first photos the world is seeing from season 2 of Outlander.  

Yes, this is our first look at season 2.  It's not just the rabid fans who are seeing these - it's the entire television community.  SO, were these photos a good "First Look"?

Not at all. 

It tells us nothing about what's to come other than Jamie and Claire will be at a nice dinner into an obtusely referenced Parisian dining room.  They had to tell us it was #PeekAtParis for us to understand it was actually Paris.  

Why tell us when you are supposed to SHOW us?

Yes, most anything Outlander related will impress current fans because they know what they're looking at.  They, (and myself) are happy to get anything.  We've been waiting for so long.  But, these dinner photos don't engage new viewers.  They don't coax old viewers back who decided to call it quits after season one B.  

There's no story here.  

There's nothing to entice people about how exquisite and beautifully layered our show is and/or where it's going in season 2.

We need something "other", and as only Starz and the creative team know what they are holding back, they are the ones who need to figure out what that "thing" is.  Perhaps there is a large timeline of events and releases that we don't know about yet.  Maybe they are still working on post production on images and film so they can't get us a perfectly treated tidbit of the show yet.  I totally understand all of that.

But, it's been a long time since June and "winter is coming".

What were your expectations of 'A Peek at Paris'?  How can Starz meet them in the future weeks without giving too much away?

NEWS: Filming For The Last Block Of Outlander Season 2 is set to Begin In...

Written by: Anne Gavin

Outlander fans everywhere are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the end of Droughtlander is drawing nearer as the cast and crew get ready to film the final two episodes of the popular series. Executive Producer, Matt Roberts, posted on Twitter earlier this week that he was out scouting locations for the final block.


Love Is Worth Fighting For

Written By: Paige Contreras 

Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh love! L-O-V-E. No, I'm not gonna start singing the song. It's been the subject many books and, towards the end of them, you sigh and hope you find the same thing one day. Movies have gone down in history for some of the most famous love scenes ever to grace the silver screen. Poems, sonnets, and plays have been known to make our heart go pitter patter ever since our first English Class.  It's such a small word, but the meaning of it can have an impact on rest of our lives and can affect the decisions we make. It packs a punch. Especially when it comes in book form. Now, for me, I was one of the girls who would read my favorite book late into the hours of the night, thinking "I'm not gonna find a better love story than this". But if other love stories packed a punch, believe me when I tell you, Outlander was a sucker punch.


Bill Paterson wins Lifetime Achievement award from BAFTA's Scotland

Written by: Caroline Trevor

Bill Paterson - AKA: Ned Gowan - has won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BAFTA's in Scotland. On receiving the award he praised the acting of the cast and the production values of the show.


Divided About Dougal: Is the War Chief a Good Guy, Bad Guy or Something in Between?

Written by: Anne Gavin

Neither one of the MacKenzie brothers are what I would call warm and fuzzy. They are Highlanders through and through. Both are tough, gruff, extremely intelligent and, in different ways, singularly ambitious. But, it is Dougal MacKenzie who plays an integral role in Jamie Fraser’s life from a very young age. And, one could argue, he plays quite a large part in Claire’s 18th century life almost from the moment she falls through time. Throughout the early novels in the Outlander series, Dougal remains a puzzling character. At once loyal, caring and fiercely protective of his Clan family – including his nephew, Jamie – but at the same time ruthlessly ambitious, brutal, cruel and calculating. So, who is the real Dougal MacKenzie and what lies at the essence of this complicated man? Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of the question of whether Clan MacKenzie’s War Chief is a good guy or a bad guy…

Why Angus, Rupert and Ned Gowan are such wonderful Outlander TV additions

Written By: Janet Reynolds

As I've noted before in this blog, I'm a book purist. That said, I love a good adaptation, and few books have been better translated to the small screen than Diana Gabaldon's wonderful Outlander series. But while some might quibble with certain choices Executive Producer Ron Moore and his talented crew made in the parts of the first book they included in the TV series, these producers were brilliant about what they decided to do with three fairly minor book characters: Angus, Rupert and — my particular fave — Ned Gowan. Here is an example of less certainly being more.

A Moment to Shift Our Focus

Written by: Kendra Spring Klasek

Here at Outlander Cast, we may seem to be of one mind about things, and those are all things 'Outlander'.  But there are times, like today, when we need to shift our focus and look at the broader picture.

Richard Kahan to write an episode in Season 2

Written by: Caroline Trevor


The former actor turned assistant writer to Ira Steven Behr, Richard Kahan announced on Twitter that he will be penning an episode of the highly anticipated second season of Outlander.

Though it is unclear as to what episode he is writing, this is great news for the fans who seem to adore Kahan.


Lord Lovat Cast (CONFIRMED)

Written by: Caroline Trevor


The announcement came down from Starz on high, today, that prominent UK actor, Clive Russel, has been cast as Lord Lovat, more commonly known as the "Old Fox."


Lord John Grey Cast?

Written by: Caroline Trevor


According to IMDB and SpoilerTVOscar Kennedy may have been cast as Lord John Grey for Season 2 of Outlander.


Tulach Ard: The Other Half of Jamie's "Real" Ancestry

written by Sara Mordzynski

Fair is fair”  so Jamie said in  ‘The Wedding”.  Now, don’t get too excited, this will not be a post rapsodizing about the writing, cinematography or acting  of  episode 107 because  most of us will agree, it was fabulous. Referring to my previous post, in which I explored the Fraser ancestry up to the Outlander timeline, it is only fair to give the Mackenzies a similar exploration, especially since they do have a huge presence, both in the book and  TV adaptation.

Outlander Cast Chats w/Outlander Composer: Bear McCreary - Episode 15

Transcribed by Denise Stewart
February 9, 2015
photo credit

Hosts Mary and Blake discuss all things music with the composer of Outlander, Bear McCreary.  Bear was extremely kind in carving out 20 minutes of his extraordinarily busy schedule to talk about his role on our favorite show.  So, in this very special episode, you will learn all about, how Bear researched the show, why "The Skye Boat Song" is used as the main title, the one thing Bear couldn't live without as composer on Outlander, what show Bear waited his entire life to compose, his awesome personal blog, the surprising character Bear wants to stand out musically, Bear's favorite Outlander theme, and a whole lot more!  You'll also learn about why Blake's in a giving mood and why Mary is like an 80 year old woman.

For the full audio of the episode, please Click here

For the full transcription of the episode click Read More 

Outlander Season Two: Secrets Revealed*

Written by: Holly Richter-White



While I don't have gossip on characters or casting or costumes to share,  I do have insights into TV writing and how I think Season Two will be portrayed on-screen.  


Breaking News: Ronald D Moore Interview for the BBC

Written by: Caroline Trevor



 Ronald D. Moore interview to the BBC

Ronald D Moore has given an interview to the BBC and we think you'll like what he has to say about the likelihood of season 3!  Read below for a full transcript.


More Behind the Scenes Photos

Written by: Caroline Trevor


Here are some new behind-the-scenes photos from Season 2 of Outlander.

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