April 28, 2007
Smallville Legends: Justice and Doom: Integrating Content and Advertising Across Multiple Media Platforms

News came out about a week-and-a-half ago as to an interesting new marketing and transmedia storytelling plan that will be launched across Warner Brothers and through the CW Network with Toyota.

John Consoli with MediaWeek reports on a marketing initiative for CW drama series Smallville which will last for five weeks across several platforms.

This marketing and storytelling initiative across platforms began with the CW episode of Smallville that aired on April 18 and will last through the show's season finale, which will air on May 17.

This cross-platform initiative is being called Smallville Legends: Justice and Doom.

The marketing part of this initiative is called a "content wrap," a model launched by CW this semester which Consoli explains is "advertiser-aligned content that takes the place of typical 30-second TV commercials during programming, targeted to appeal to specific demographic audiences." In other words, the story on the main show is supplemented by original advertiser-based content that airs during what would conventionally be commercial breaks.

However, this Toyota campaign is the first time this wrap has launched around a single advertiser across multiple media forms, driven by the online game, which relates to the final five episodes of the show this season.

According to Consoli, "Smallville's producers and writers worked closely with the network, DC Comics, Toyota and its ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi L.A. on the creation of the multiplatform campaign."

The press release for the campaign was posted in the forum for the COMICON site. The campaign features the Toyota Yaris.

That press release states that:

The Yaris audience is made up of die-hard pop culture fans and loyal followers of cult shows like Smallville. The integrated storytelling experience of the content wraps and game will give them more of the exclusive content they crave. It will answer unexplained questions from the entire run of Smallville, detail the back story behind a major plot line, explain the secret history preceding the formation of Oliver Queen's team, and reveal the perilous mission it has been taxed with.

The TV.com Web site features a thread reacting to the project as it develops, although there haven't been a great number of posts so far.

See, for instance, the Webisode/mobile content presented by Sprint called Smallville Legends: The Oliver Queen Chronicles, an animated series that is part of the campaign.

This campaign is a little too early to determine its success or failure as a creative endeavor, but the model and the promises touted in the press releases may show a way to present targeted advertising material that could be of particular interest to the fans. I'll be fascinated to see how this plays out, and, if any Smallville fans read this, I would like to see your all's take on this idea and how successful its execution is.

Thanks to my colleagues Ivan Askwith and Geoffrey Long for cluing me in on the initiative.