We have picked out some of the examples of TV shows whose online campaigns have intrigued us, entertained us, thrilled us.
For the fans of the cult American adventure TV series Lost, enjoying their favorite show goes well beyond watching television. In the six years of airing, starting from 2004, Lost became a global phenomenon and a cross-media sensation. In addition to offering an intriguing story, it was the first TV show to feature such an impressive and comprehensive integrated online marketing campaign.
Combining different media platforms, ABC Network offered their viewers additional narratives in many different forms, from official and unofficial websites and fan message boards, to YouTube videos and podcasts, and interactive online games.
The Lost Experience is the name of the online alternate reality game developed as a spin-off of the show’s storyline, which not only engaged the fandom, encouraging them to search for codes, hacks and secrets about the show, but actually hyped them up even more. Ads from the fictitious organizations featured in the show appeared on the Internet, revealing clues and leading the fans on a number of websites where they could chat, discuss, and exchange their clues in order to unlock further online content and solve the missing puzzle.
By creating real websites for Oceanic Air, the airline company of the plane that crashed in the first episode, or Hanso Foundation, an organization featured in the show, ABC intertwined not just fiction and reality, but also marketing and storytelling. They also aired a series of documentary films containing new revelations about the mysterious research project called Dharma Initiative and the conspiracies that surrounded it.
2. How I Met Your Mother
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the legacy of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother for popular culture is legen… wait for it… dary! But if we look back at the way the show expanded its presence on the Internet, we can see a simple, yet smart and entertaining integrated marketing strategy.
In addition to Barney Stinson‘s printed textbooks The Bro Code, Bro on the Go and The Playbook, which make for obligatory reading for all true fans of the show, the audience could also follow him on his blog and Twitter account.
In addition, every website mentioned in the show could be googled and would show relevant results. From Ted Mosby Is A Jerk and Ted Mosby Is Not A Jerk to Guy Forces His Wife To Dress In A Garbage For The Next Three Years and of course, The Slap Bet Countdown.
Not to forget that Robin, who turned out to be a pop icon in Canada under the name Robin Sparkles, had her own MySpace page.
3. True Blood
You might be surprised to find out how much vampires like to keep up with technology and social network trends. At least the ones created by HBO do.
The premiere of the television drama series True Blood was followed by a comprehensive digital marketing campaign. It was centered around an alternate reality game set to present the creation of Tru Blood, a fictional beverage that allows vampires to come out of their coffins and present themselves to the public. Along with mailers encouraging vampires to reach out one to each other, there were several commercials airing on HBO and appearing on Facebook, placing vampires in ads similar to those for beer and wine, as well as introducing vending machines across the US with disclaimers that they are out of Tru Blood.
During the years of the show’s airing, HBO made strong efforts in engaging their audience and offering them additional content. One of the last examples of their strategy was the online video diary of one of the characters. The teenage vampire, Jessica, shared her updates, photos and videos in her personal blog called Confessions of a Good Girl Gone Vampire, and the videos often features guests – mainly her vampire colleagues from the show.
Just one look below the surface will turn the seemingly quiet Amish town of Banshee into a realm of organized crime, gambling and vice. With that in mind, the creators of this action-drama television series on Cinemax Network decided to tickle the imagination of their future viewers by letting them get acquainted with the background story.
Before the TV premiere, the Internet had a chance to grab a sneak preview of the first episode of Banshee, presented in an original and highly shareable way – told entirely through animated GIFs. The intrigue, tension and violence the series abounds in managed to transfer succesfully in this silent format, creating a buzz around the show.
Considering the unusual opening and live GIF-ing of the episodes via Tumblr and Twitter, the audience did not expect anything less than a unique season finale. The series cast and crew live tweeted upon and during the last episode in a coordinated effort, making it the highest rated live episode of the season and boosting social conversation by over 160% compared to the series average, and, of course, placing the hashtag #BansheeFinale at the top of the Twitter Trending Topics.
5. Orange Is the New Black
With a well-planned content strategy and strong social media presence, prison bars are not an obstacle to success. The Netflix original TV show Orange Is The New Black managed to build the hype with its well executed campaign, making the viewers spellbound by the community at Litchfield Penitentiary.
Present with an authentic voice on variety of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter, their content amuses and engages fans. The visually attractive and humorous content celebrating its characters, such as Black Cindy’s Horoscope or Crazy Eyes Dating Tips, makes it easy for the audience to identify with them.
However, the show’s content strategy proves that content marketing doesn’t have to aim at entertaining the audience in order to be shareable. It can also raise awareness and tackle important issues, such as the demand for policies and programs that meet the needs of women in prison. An interactive piece published in The New York Times, Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work, presented in images, infographics, video and audio clips highlights the problems that incarcerated women are faced with.