Monday, January 7

Downton Abbey

This one hit me out of nowhere ... I'm not sure that I had ever heard about it before.

Then suddenly, yesterday, all I'm hearing about is Downton Abbey.  Turns out it's the newest pop culture television sensation ... premiering its third season.  Third season!  Third and gaining steam! And I had never heard about it! And on PBS of all places, not necessarily the place you think of for pop culture sensations.

So I tuned in.  First I watched the story about what it takes to maintain the castle ... very interesting and very PBS.  Worth the watch, but not lighting any fires under anyone I would assume.

Then I dove head first into the season three premiere. 

First of all, the network clearly gets that it's their moment in the sun so the fundraising messaging was on right at the beginning.  They rely on donations so it is smart to strike while the iron is hot.

Secondly, I had forgotten that PBS now runs commercials.  Not during the programs, but in between.  Full fledged television advertising, just like any other network.  Of course, the advertising is from "sponsors" and all in the tonality you'd expect from PBS.

Now about the show ... I get it, I really do.  I'm not sure that I'll watch it again, but I get it.  What I find far more interesting, though, are all of the premiere parties that were happening around the country during the show.  That's the cool part.  I love when consumers really get into a brand!

Fans got together in their homes, dressed up in period costumes, and cooked food reminiscent of the show to make it a full fledged premiere party.  This was a big event and the fans were into it!  How much fun!  Talk about a brand experience, and a really fun way for an entertainment property to engage its audience!  If PBS were really smart, they'd somehow capitalize on that ... this kind of phenomenon doesn't happen very often.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

PS - Join us for live tweets during The Golden Globes, all about the marketing, this coming Sunday, 1/13/13 at 6:30pm at #GGExp.  On Twitter @JimJosephExp.

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