When the hugely popular Breaking Bad series came to an end in 2013, it was clear that there were still plenty more stories to be told. However, of all the characters that warranted their own spin-off series, shady lawyer Saul Goodman was perhaps not the obvious choice.
Fast forward five years and the decision was an inspired one, with the prequel series Better Call Saul proving a smash-hit around the world as it slowly reveals the pre-Breaking Bad past of Goodman along with other central characters including Mike Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring.
Better Call Saul was picked up by Netflix in the UK with the first episode set to be broadcast in February 2015. The marketers at the streaming giants got their heads together and came up with a superb marketing campaign, distributing thousands of custom printed beer mats in pubs and bars across the UK.
The beer mats were designed to seem realistic, almost as though Goodman had actually given them to the pub himself, or more likely slipped them onto the tables when the landlord wasn’t looking. The message of ‘BOOZE GOT YOU IN TROUBLE AGAIN?’ was well-targeted at people drinking in a pub, with the image of Goodman pointing at the person reading the mat reminiscent of the marketing that the character used to produce in Breaking Bad.
Not content to stop there, the designer also added a deliberately amateurish-looking shape with a telephone number to call ‘for all your legal needs’. For anyone who was intrigued enough to call the number, they would be treated to a recorded message of the actor Bob Odenkirk who plays Goodman telling them to watch the show – genius! The number has since been reallocated to a different business so please don’t try now as you’ll be disappointed and certainly won’t get any legal help from the man himself.
Despite this pretty successful attempt at authenticity, it is still obvious that the purpose of the beer mat was to promote the show. The Netflix logo at the top and Better Call Saul logo in the centre are both prominent, with the call to action of ‘WATCH NEW EPISODES WEEKLY’ made to stand out in the way that the artwork has been designed.
This wasn’t the only time that this type of strategy was used to advertise the show. Back in Albuquerque, New Mexico where the show is set, a billboard was erected in 2014 for James M. McGill – Goodman’s original name. A telephone number was included once again, with pre-recorded audio from Odenkirk acting as a voicemail message.
We loved this example of how beer mat printing can be used as part of a creative marketing campaign almost as much as we love the show itself. Well played Saul, well played.
If you’re a fan of the show, read about what we think about Saul Goodman’s Business Cards in our review of some of film and TV’s most famous cards.