Wallet-friendly pay television service Philo has rolled out a new national ad campaign that leverages its content partnerships in the pursuit of new subscribers.
The campaign, called "Flipping," focuses around a 30-second spot created in conjunction with the production company ArtClass that began running on cable networks and social media platforms earlier this month.
Pre-production was focused on a single team, and the creative was designed to be shot in a single day, with the finished presentation showcasing "Philo customers viewing their favorite TV shows on multiple devices in the comfort of their home."
Matt Stein, the company's head of brand and creative strategy, said the campaign was designed so Philo could "rotate in and out show clips" as new programs debut across the more than 60 channels supported by the streaming service.
"The camera is flipping around the footage to reveal people in their environment, and we really wanted to show consumers in different environments and how they are likely to use Philo," Stein said in an interview, adding that the type of shows Philo is able to offer could be described as "the comfort food of television."
The timing of the creative was intended in part to capitalize on the start of the fall programming season across networks, as well as back-to-school consumer shopping trends that begin in late August and run through September.
Stein acknowledged some cord-cutting households may be evaluating streaming options with popular sports programming, something Philo doesn't have. To keep costs low, the company has instead employed a strategy of reaching distribution deals with networks that offer general entertainment, lifestyle and knowledge programming without costlier sports and cable news channels.
The company has content distribution deals with ViacomCBS, Discovery Communications, AMC Networks and A+E Networks, which comprise the bulk of its linear channels. All four companies are also investor-owners in Philo.
Over the last two years, Philo has reached similar deals with smaller programmers like Sony Pictures Television (Get TV), Urban One (TV One, Cleo TV), Revolt TV, Bloomberg and Altice (Cheddar). Its linear television lineup has grown to more than 60 channels, for which Philo charges $25 a month.
Recently, it launched an add-on movie package that gives customers access to HDNet Movies, MGM HD, Sony Cinema and two others for an extra $3 a month. Starz and Epix are also available for separate fees comparable to what others charge for the movie networks.
"We almost never talk about Philo as a place with no sports," Stein said. "We focus on what we do have, as opposed to the things we don't include in the package."
Philo's creative strategy, coupled with its decision to support multiple platforms and give users extra perks like an unlimited cloud DVR that saves programs for one year (initially, it was three months), seems to be working. In August 2020, a Philo spokesperson revealed the streamer had 750,000 subscribers, a 300% increase compared to one year prior. Three months later, the company said that number had grown to over 800,000 subscribers.
In July, Philo CEO Andrew McCollum declined to say whether the streaming service had crossed one million subscribers, but he said the service was "so close to the big milestone."
"I’ve argued we should have a public dashboard on the website where people just go and see how many subscribers we have," McCollum said. "Some of our partners are not quite ready to embrace that level of transparency."
The recent creative strategy is designed to get Philo closer to that milestone, if it hasn't crossed it already, by showcasing the best of what the service has to offer, as demonstrated by actors who resemble the everyday consumers who are likely to appreciate the service.
A Philo spokesperson said the "Flipping" campaign is a larger rollout compared to prior marketing campaigns, with a commitment of at least a six-week run on cable television and digital platforms. Stein thinks it's likely Philo will run television ads on some cable beyond six weeks, including on networks that aren't carried on Philo, because "we've seen television as an effective [marketing] channel."
"We feel there's a lot to be gained by running on networks that we don't carry," Stein said. "We really have such familiar content to consumers that I think someone will see our spot, see the logo soup (of channels), and see the footage from the [shows] they know and love, and there will be an immediate familiarity."