Facebook Leads Digital Battalion For ‘Spartacus’

starzIf you want to buy gladiators on Facebook, you’ll need some “denarri.” That’s the fictional currency for a Facebook game announced yesterday by cable network Starz, which hopes the effort builds buzz leading up to the Jan. 21 season premiere of “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.”

The game spearheads a larger and distinctly aggressive digital marketing initiative for the television show. And what Starz is doing to promote the Facebook game is intriguing. The Englewood, CA-based company is pushing it – like the show – with the following: Facebook.com ads; a display ad network campaign; Google Adwords; house ads on the cable network; and updates via the show’s accounts on Facebook (754,000 “likes) and Twitter (7,000 followers).

The game, developed by 6waves, will be available on Jan. 6 to the first 10,000 viewers who register to be beta users by “liking” the TV show on Facebook. After Jan. 21, other Facebook users will be able to play.

Hong Kong-based 6waves will also promote the game with its own Facebook.com ads and via its cross-promotional tool bar. Adam Zeller, director of digital media for Starz, told ClickZ that creating a Facebook game thematically predicated on a TV show had many marketing benefits.

“We can leverage the virality of social media gaming to generate awareness for the show,” he said. “We can use the game as a platform to alert players of new things happening in the show. We can also create a deeper relationship between the viewer and the program by immersing them in the content that directly correlates to what is happening in the program.”

In the game, players are charged with running a gladiator school, called a “Ludus,” while assuming the role of “Lanista,” the manager of gladiators. They must assemble a team of gladiators by purchasing them with denarri currency and then train them to be champion warriors in the ancient Roman Empire. The game is free; denarri are earned by accruing points on the game platform.

Zeller said a wide-ranging media plan will promote the TV show, entailing online display ads, a WAP site, SMS messages, broadcast promotions, outdoor signage, and print ads. The online display ads will appear on Web sites with TV-, media-, and video-related content, he said.

Starz has also worked with New York-based technology firm Click3x to release an iPad app on January 22, available through the cable network’s iTunes store. The app is similar to a version the companies produced for the franchise’s previous season, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand.” It provides scripts for each episode, exclusive multimedia video segments, directors’ notes, and cast photos, among other sneak peeks and perks. While the app is free, scripts for each episode cost 99 cents to download.

And the app will have its own marketing advances, Zeller said. “We are still working out the details of on-air mentions,” he explained, “but we plan to promote the app through all of our digital channels – including Starz.com, our Facebook page, and our Twitter feed.”

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