Monday, 2 July 2007

Follow Me Entertainment

I’ve been gazing into my navel recently contemplating how media, entertainment and entertainment formats will develop and change over the coming years.

The thing that struck me today was the concept of ‘Follow Me’ media, which is inferred to a certain extent by cross platform propositions. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going all soothsayer and saying all TV/entertainment will be like this, what I’m saying is this is a strand that will grow, develop and become a bigger element in the mix.

By now you’re going, what does he mean ‘Follow Me’? Well increasingly entertainment portals or ‘channel brands’ are becoming ‘Follow Me’; in short the brand you like is available wherever you are. Today that means you get BBC News on TV, Net, PDA, Radio; it means Channel 4 is on terrestrial, on digital, Video on Demand, Online, Radio; it means you get your Facebook, flickr or You Tube on your phone as well as on your computer; it even means you have Fame as a TV show, a theatre musical, a music album or that you have Gala Bingo on the high street, on interactive TV and on the net.

This reflects the fact that brands need to be able to cut through a lot of media clutter and chatter to connect with consumers and ‘get value’, but also that we the audience also multi-task our entertainment. Tell me you’ve never read a paper or magazine in the living room whilst half following a TV show or listening to the radio?

Pushing the analogy further, commercial brands are becoming ‘Follow Me’ too. Look at Orange, Virgin or o2 that are your broadband, your phone, your TV but also bring you music at festivals or venues, give you tickets to see a movie and sell you non-core add-ons that bring you the brand lifestyle . It’s all becoming ‘experiential’: The brand interacting with your life on multiple levels throughout the day, making sometimes material differences to your life beyond their core product.

The next logical step for me within TV and multi-media is an expansion of not the ‘distribution brands’ like ITV being fully ‘Follow Me’, it’s the ‘show’ - the format as well as the format brand becoming ‘Follow Me’ too. This could apply to dramas, quizzes, reality even documentaries.

The best recent example for me right now is the Glastonbury Festival. It’s a real-life event, but you can also ‘interact’ with it by watching it on TV, listening on the radio, coverage in newspapers and the web, chatter on social networks and message boards.. you are even bought extras by sponsors like Orange and The Guardian.

In drama there have been experiments with ‘mobisodes’ of 24 and Doctor Who expanding the show experience. It’s interesting how LonelyGirl15 creators, which played on You Tube have created a new drama KateModern that doesn’t just get ‘premiered’ on social networking site Bebo, it’s actually fully integrated with the site. It’s not that hard to imagine adding another distribution platform or element into the mix so you get it on your phone, or watch a catch-up show on say Trouble or Sky One.

Even X Factor or Big Brother have elements of ‘Follow Me’ as auditions hit your local town and local papers, you watch the show and you interact and influence the show through voting, or chatting on message boards (social networking). You carry on by seeing the X Factor live music show or in BB’s case, it’s a case of Panto and Heat covers. The fact that you see these shows played at pubs just reinforces how people want these formats and brands to be available as they carry on with the rest of their lives.

I’ve already previously posted about ARG (Alternative Reality Games: What is the next Big Brother? post) in the which take this ‘cross-platform’ format to the ultimate extreme where you’re in fact better off to interact with the quiz/game show/drama/reality format on multiple platforms if you want to, say, win a million.

If you can take control over more parts of these various format value chains, you are in a win-win situation. Advertisers and sponsors love the idea of experiential marketing that really connects a consumer with their brand, which builds loyalty and on-going opportunities. Audiences love a format that they can get involved with, that engrosses them and gives them opportunities to get more (look at ‘spin offs like Doctor Who Confidential or the Xtra Factor, or calling in to get onto Who Wants to Be a Millionaire).

The question for me is do we get there by creeping increments as show brands and formats develop onto multiple platforms over multiple seasons, or if we get that big break out hit that launches a new section within the media industry.

Gosh, after all that pondering I’m off to switch my brain off in front of a non-challenging, sit back, non-interactive and totally linear piece of TV.


hilary said...

The key thing for any brand trying to punch through a crowded media landscape is access. Providing multiple access points to interact with your brand or consume or content is at the core of everything we do. The more opportunities there are to access content, the more opportunities there are to extend that brand's reach & share.

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