Back in October I wrote about How I Met Your Mother’s International Suit Up Day, a fan made holiday in favor of beloved suit upper Barney Stinson. Research for the post took me in several different directions which could not all be addressed in the “holiday” blog post. Although I had known previously about the MeetatMaclarens Twitter and corresponding Facebook page, I had not known that they were part of a bigger project initiated by television channel WGN America.
In 2011, WGN America hired Story Worldwide to assist in launching a social media campaign for Facebook and Twitter. Story Worldwide is a post-advertising agency that focuses on publishing a brand narrative through various media to better engage with the targeted consumers. By thinking of the brand as a story instead of thinking in terms of a campaign, Story hopes to draw the attention of true fans who will then draw more attention to the brand with their own posts, discussions, and contributions to the community.
This type of campaign is targeting the emotional capital of the fans by tuning in to what the fans enjoy and using that to enhance both the community and WGN’s own ratings. Jenkins calls content such as this corporate convergence since the media is commercially driven (28).
The campaign involved the aforementioned Twitter and Facebook in addition to a Blog, and Youtube channel. All of these sites worked seamlessly to get the HIMYM fandom’s attention by focusing on HIMYM superfans. The Facebook page actually has several sections for fans to explore and share. The campaign came across as “by the fans, for the fans” instead of a corporation’s ideas. The campaign received a very positive response, and was even nominated for several awards for their effective use of Facebook advertising. Unfortunately, some of the cool interactive sites created for this project are no longer active. However, the Twitter and Facebook continue to interact and share with fans during this final season.
So, what does this mean for HIMYM? Everything. WGN is an off-network syndication channel for How I Met Your Mother, meaning that they play older episodes in the series and are therefore vying for the HIMYM fan base’s attention. But instead of just doing the usual campaign to try and attract fan’s attention, they employed the assistance of Story Worldwide and instead proactively changed the HIMYM online fan community. This not only benefits WGN, but also helps CBS and HIMYM by creating online buzz about the show.
So, where would the HIMYM fan community be without this Story Worldwide campaign? Would International Suit Up Day still be happening? Without knowing the details, I would have been opposed to a company influencing fan media, but in this case the fandom seemed to have needed the guidance. WGN and Story Worldwide managed to create a campaign that was fun and fitting for the fandom without overwhelmingly making it about their own company and goals.
Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York, 2006. Print.
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About Stef ParkerJust your average millennial who happens to love snowboarding, Pinterest, Nintendo and music with a passion for advertising and social media :-)
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