December 15, 2005
The Carver on MySpace: a social networking television marketing effort that works

Film and TV folks seem to be building on their experiences in the social networking spaces. After early experiments like Anchorman and Apprentice 2 on Friendster last season (Anchorman - bad, Apprentice - so-so), Nip Tuck on MySpace is doing pretty well for itself. This is because the FX guys seem to have got the underlying mechanics of social networking more astutely than, say, the NBC folks did for Friendster. Then, it was a site - where users could view candidate profiles, and share their opinions about them with their friends. Simple, but a complete underutilization of the power of the medium. With Nip Tuck, the guys at FX have a better model. They've created a profile page for The Carver, the show's serial rapist whose identity will be revealed on the episode airing on December 20. As a MediaWeek article about this initiative reports:

A link on the home page sends users to a message board for the series, where fans debate the identity of The Carver, drawing on a slew of real or imagined clues seeded throughout season three and on the MySpace site itself.

While some limit their comments to a guess--the popular vote would seem to implicate plastic surgeon Quentin Costas--many fans build up their hypotheses like seasoned litigators, deconstructing pertinent bits of dialogue, examining clips from the show and, in one case, using voice recognition software in an attempt to identify the man--or woman--behind the mask.

The FX guys are thinking transmedia - creating a complex multi=layered narrative and personality for The Carver, seeding clues about The Carver in a variety of places, avoiding advertising on Carver's profile page, and making the initiative predominantly about content and community, although as the MediaWeek article points out, MySpace does belong to FX's media parent, New Corp, which recently paid good money to acquire it. Still, according to me, its an example of transmedia and viral marketing well done... (The Carver's profile page has over 61,000 'friends') and a template that future experiments in this space can build upon.


On December 16, 2005 at 12:34 AM, Sam Ford said:


As a fan of Nip/Tuck, I can say that the Carver mystery has been one of the most compelling on TV these days. And all of the hints they're dropping and the games they're playing can do nothing but help.

If you look through the archives, you'll find an earlier story about the interesting advertising sponsorship model Nip/Tuck tried earlier this year. And The Sheild has been subject to some talk on this blog as well becuase of its creative use of music.

F/X may be just the place to watch for some cutting edge advertising, transmedia, and product placement ideas...

On December 18, 2005 at 12:47 PM, Sam Ford said:

There's an interesting piece in this week's Entertainment Weekly by Lynette Rice documenting the speculations of some oddsmakers from Las Vegas as to the true identity of the Carver. Seems to be quite the cultural phenomenon over the past few weeks and a lot of amateur detectives out there trying to figure this one out.