Inside HBO's Intoxicating At-Home Dining Experience for Perry Mason

An experiential event for a time of social distancing

Escaping to another time and place doesn't sound so bad right about now, eh?

In its latest marketing campaign for the new drama Perry Mason, HBO delivered just that to press and influencers around Los Angeles—including Muse by Clio. To celebrate the critically acclaimed series set in Prohibition-era 1930s L.A., HBO partnered with creative agency RQ to set the classic Hollywood tone in homes around the city, while also bringing attention to local eateries and businesses.

When it comes to building experiences around its series, few do it better than HBO. But building fan experiences during Covid-19 is a challenge in itself.

"With people stuck at home, we've looked for ways of creating interactive experiences that allow people to connect and have fun with our series while maintaining social distance," says Zach Krame, manager of program marketing. "In this particular case, we wanted to highlight and support the L.A. legacy dining establishments, so we devised a plan to bring a contactless experience directly to recipients' homes."

HBO partnered with the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, Musso & Frank Grill, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, to deliver an at-home dinner experience. Known as a top spot in Hollywood for power lunches and celebrity dinners, it was a natural fit for this campaign, serving as an iconic part of the Hollywood scene. This famous eatery is no stranger to showbiz, as it's been featured in films from the days of Charlie Chaplin and even as recently as Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

The time-travel experience didn't end with the grub. Also included in the special delivery was a Prohibition Kit that included alcohol and syrups disguised in milk bottles—delivered straight from the Mason farm. 

"The design of the kit was based on unit photography and props from the show itself, albeit with a few embellishments," said Krame. "HBO's Perry Mason begins with Mason residing on his family dairy farm called 'Mason Dairy,' so that's where we started, using the farm as a framing device for a Prohibition-style delivery."

The Prohibition Kit arrived in a custom-designed wooden crate, including everything needed to make an evening of Prohibition a little more spirited—a decanter, bar tools, fruit and cocktail recipes designed on a 1930s-style newspaper. 

"All the containers are meant to look like a typical dairy-farm delivery, but when you look a little closer, it's clear there are cocktails hiding under the façade," says Krame.

HBO wanted to take the campaign a step further than influencer mailers that would result in your standard unboxing videos, which have become an industry norm. "We've challenged ourselves with creating a campaign with multiple touchpoints that everyone can participate in, even if you're not physically with us at an event," Krame says.

HBO worked with YouTube creator and mixologist Leandro DiMonriva, aka The Educated Barfly, to create a dinner and cocktail club, which includes custom video tutorials for Prohibition-era cocktails that have been shared weekly on the @PerryMasonHBO Instagram and HBO's YouTube channel. "Even if you didn't receive the package, you can still join in on the fun," Krame explains.

For the main ingredient, the liquor and elixirs, HBO partnered with Mulholland Distilling, which produces its New World Gin right here in DTLA. It also partnered with L.A. local Liquid Alchemist to provide craft cocktail elixirs that offer a natural alternative to dated industry products containing artificial flavoring. 

And what would Prohibition be without whiskey? As a Kentuckian, I was pleased to see HBO partnered with a Kentucky favorite, Old Forester, whose heritage in producing whiskey dates back to 1870. Fun fact: Old Forester were one of only a handful of companies permitted to manufacture and sell whiskey, for medicinal purposes, during Prohibition.

It was quite the evening in and a welcome trip out of 2020 and back to the 1930s. As a brand famous for bringing its series to life through experiential marketing, HBO not only built an experience inside homes around L.A., but also reminded audiences of the importance of supporting local businesses.

Perry Mason airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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