Eventually, they started receiving texts on those phones.

2. Get a bunch of people to dress up like the Guilty Remnant to scare tourists in Times Square.

Actors dressed as cult members staged one of New York City’s biggest faux pas when they blocked walking paths in Times Square on June 23, a few days before the series premiere. According to the Times Square Alliance, 350,000 pedestrians walk through Times Square every day and another 115,000 people drive through it.

3. Create a YouTube promo for a fake product called “Loved Ones.”

The mock commercial advertises “bereavement figures” with such composure and familiarity that it feels like it could be an ad for Cialis.

4. Partner with Argentinian artist Pablo Bernasconi and take to Facebook and Twitter to promote a fake children’s book (which, like the faux promo, feels very, very real).

The infantility and eeriness of the illustrations in ”The ABCs of the Sudden Departure” tend to stick in the mind.

But for all that, The Leftovers garnered a tepid 1.77 million viewers for its premiere. Here’s how that stacks up against the series premieres of HBO’s other current dramas:

Series premiere viewership for current HBO dramas

Had The Leftovers aired on its originally scheduled date of June 15, it undoubtedly would have attracted more viewers; the season four finale of Game of Thrones and its 7.09 million viewers would have preceded it. But because of a short hiatus in filming, the premiere was pushed back two weeks to June 29, and thus followed True Blood’s middling 3.06 million viewers.

The viral marketing strategy for The Leftovers was not HBO’s first foray into nontraditional, interactive ad campaigns. But the campaign for The Leftovers may have been its most comprehensive, presumably because misery isn’t something the average TV-watcher jumps to buy. Whether the show will be a hit remains to be seen; either way, the effort is fitting for one of the bleakest shows ever made.

Check out Glass for more on the future of TV.

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