In the pre-digital age, you would learn about upcoming television programs from mainly two places, commercial clips running on TV itself, or TV guide. Ads on television networks would promote their own programming as interstitials between shows, telling you to tune in to watch the next episode of “I Love Lucy,” or “Dallas,” or “Seinfeld.” Then two things happened. One, cable television came on the scene, and suddenly there were 500-1000 channels to watch. Then, the internet came of age, and suddenly viewers weren’t just watching TV, they were interacting with TV.
Shows like “The Voice” and “American Idol” introduced fan voting, first over the phone and then online. Suddenly consumers had a new voice. Tweets started appearing and running during some shows, where your voice could be seen as well as heard.
Recently, we’ve been seeing some pretty inventive programming promotion going on that was inspired by fans, and powered by user interactivity. The “Fire & Ice” promotion of “Game of Thrones” season 7 was live-streamed on Facebook Live and over 162,000 GOT fans stuck around for over an hour to find out when the new season would premiere. The show’s cast members popped up and encouraged fans to type the word FIRE on their keyboards to speed up the process, and many did.
Then there was the “House of Cards” promotion during last fall’s presidential debates featuring candidate Frank Underwood making promises worthy of real presidential candidates, and the hashtag #FU2016 became a top trending topic on Twitter. Viewers could even type FU in response to any issue facing America today on Frank Underwood’s fictional campaign website.
Finally, there’s the brilliant promotion of the Netflix program “Narcos,” that was actually inspired by fans tweeting about the bilingual show. Tweets like…”#Narcos is pretty much free Spanish lessons,” “They should show Narcos in school to teach Spanish,” and “It’s a proven fact that you can learn Spanish if you watch enough episodes of “Narcos,” birthed the second season’s advertising campaign. “Learn Spanish with Narcos” featured characters from the show giving Spanish lessons to fans.
See it here: https://almaad.com/work/spanish-lessons/
Although the Spanish words the fans were learning were mostly off-color and obscene, the lessons were edgy, and attracted even more fans. The campaign grew organically on social networking sites with results that were off the charts. More than 12 million views, a 40% increase in followers, and more than 50 million people reached, according to the show’s press releases. Not bad numbers for a foreign language course!
The ad agency that created the campaign, Alma DDB was founded to “bridge the gap between the Hispanic and General Market.” And with the “Spanish Lessons” campaign for “Narcos” they fulfilled their mission.
What kind of programming promotion will we see in the future? It’s anyone’s guess. But “Narcos” sure ain’t “I Love Lucy,” and the next generation of tune in ads will most likely be breaking new ground in advertising.