We’ve been very big advocates of Social TV for awhile, so it was quite surprising to see a recent high profile Social TV launch fail. Fast Company has the details here. Cliff notes version:
“Fox ran reruns of Fringe with Twitter integration so people watching the show could comment on the show in real-time. The Twitter overlay took up 1/3 of the bottom portion of the screen and as would be expected, drew outrage from viewers.”
While Fringe has been a show that’s not afraid to use the latest innovative interactive marketing programs such as ARG’s, it did seem odd that a show built on the success of these types of innovative and alternate interactive marketing initiatives would receive the backlash it did. However, it’s not the idea that’s the problem here but rather the execution.
As the screenshot above shows, Fox was going for a VH-1 Pop-Up Video Style Integration. Big mistake. Anybody who’s ever watched this show (which is basically X-Files 2.0) knows that you have to pay attention to keep up with the plot so any type of animated interruption in the form of oversized graphical tweets, is of course, going to hinder versus enhance the interactive viewing experience.
Fox should be commended for recognizing a trend with Social TV and trying it out with one of their most popular new shows. However, Fox does need to revisit how they’re using Social TV with a program (and genre) like Fringe. I don’t think just reducing the size of the Twitter integration and focusing on Fringe trivia will help overall. Nor will using viewer’s Twitter conversations that are just feeds pumped into and overlaid on the broadcast itself.
Fox should be using Twitter integration (ala Social TV) to provide sub-stories on the characters in Fringe and continue using alternative marketing methods that appeal to the core demographic. Fringe is a unique show (like Lost and the upcoming Flash Forward) that has a built-in audience that is expecting to find and participate in alternative story lines, engaging puzzles and other enhanced content to create a richer, more satisfying interactive story driven experience.
On a side note, I thought the Observer / MLB All-Star Game integration was great and showed how a subtle cross promotion can help spread awareness and build an audience for television series such as Fringe.
We Are Organized Chaos (WAOC) is Zugara’s (www.zugara.com) interactive marketing and advertising blog where we’ll be featuring some great projects and discussing upcoming trends in the digital world. Work — good and bad — will be critiqued. Hope you’ll enjoy reading our insights and thoughts on interactive.