MTV, New York / VH1 / 2022

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Why is this work relevant for Media?

The campaign for Season 14 of RuPaul’s Drag Race was developed with a critical focus on research and follow through to develop and marry dynamic creative with innovative endemic placements driving buzz, engagement, and ultimately the highest rated premiere since 2018.


Coming off of a total of 24 Emmy wins, 8 international spinoffs, and three domestic spinoffs, VH1 dove into the task to bring Season 14 to the world screen. In early planning, the VH1 marketing team discovered that while Season 13 was successful, the franchise lost roughly 20% of its core viewers from Season 12 to 13. At its core, the task at hand was to cater to the core and bring them back.

Describe the creative idea / insights

The creative for Season 14 focused heavily on gameplay giving the diehard Drag Race Core Viewer what they want, twists at every turn. The Hero promo heavily hinted at a new twist this season only to fully be revealed in the third episode of Season 14.

Describe the strategy

Targeting for Season 14 was divided into two main buckets. The Drag Race Core is made up of the top two quintiles of the audience and those lost season over season. The second bucket is a Drag Proxy consisting of like minded shows many of which utilize Drag Race alumni. As RuPual’s Drag Race has become more mainstream, the media plans had, in turn, also focused a little more broadly across mainstream media with less focus on the more niche endemic LGBTQ partners. To combat the losses seen in the core audience, the decision was made to put a heavy focus on those niche LGBTQ partners at the largest scale the franchise had ever seen. In doing so, this also hit the Drag Proxy target in a big way.

Describe the execution

For national scale, the plan leaned heavily into MVPDs and high profile fixed placements during the holidays, including a significant New Year’s Eve presence. However, the love letter for the core was found in more exciting niche placements, such as across Grindr, where we had push notification reminders, Adtheorent’s meet the queens mobile experience across LGBTQ sites and apps, iHeartRadio’s library of Queer podcasts including a special episode with Drag Race breakout stars Trixie and Katya, among many others. Complementing these placements was an all star paid social plan including a NYC domination of live tweet billboards. The tangible surprise and delight came from the Brand Marketing team in the form of over 250 mailers celebrating the return to the main stage and an in person photo op, both capturing the essence of the creative.

List the results

The Drag Race S14 debut marked the franchises’ best-rated season opener since S10 in 2018. RuPaul’s Drag Race earned a 0.53 rating in the 18-49 demo, up 17% from the S13 premiere (0.45). Additionally, Drag Race posted a 73% increase In the 18-34 demo, rising from last year’s 0.28 to 0.48.

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