Mary Sudasassi|Mar 23, 2015

Social media has already blurred the lines of journalism, transforming everyday people into instant reporters, photographers and columnists. Now, that blurred line is bleeding over into advertising, and it should come as no surprise, especially for fans of the ABC Family hit drama, “Pretty Little Liars.”

Based on the novel series from Sara Shepard, the mystery of four best friends being terrorized by the nefarious, cyberbullying “A” has been a ratings and social media juggernaut for the cable network since it premiered in 2010.

As if the #BigAReveal weren’t enough to have the show’s millions of fans tuned in to the March 24 Season 5 Spring finale, AdAge is reporting that ABC Family is putting its marketing campaign for the next season of #PLL in the hands of its biggest fans on Viewers will be asked to do everything from creating key art to choosing the magazines and websites in which the ads are placed for the 10-week marketing campaign over the summer.

The show’s creators have often cited the good fortune of good timing – the show launched right when social media was really on the rise – and the two have been inextricably linked ever since. The smartphone, after all, is practically a character unto itself on the show.

Whether it’s to drive trending hashtags, have writers interacting with fans to cull new ideas and feedback for story lines, or hosting tweet sessions for the many heated battles on the best OTPs and ‘ships, fans have had a say in the show from the very beginning – and ABC Family’s marketing department is taking full advantage of that.

“Pretty Little Liars”- By the Numbers

How does a show like this become the top-rated show among female millennials? By continuing to take the social media world by storm, prevailing across multiple platforms globally including Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest.

  • Twitter (@ABCFpll): Since its June 2010 series debut, “Pretty Little Liars” has amassed over 100 million tweets; it accounts for Twitter’s #1 scripted TV series telecast of all time; and it accounts for the Top 5 most tweeted scripted TV series telecasts overall – including the Top 2 in 2014.
  • Snapchat: Since its January 5, 2015 launch on the platform, “Pretty Little Liars” has easily one of the fastest growing social TV brands and accrued 667,000 followers. They are on pace to reach 1 Million followers by its season 6 launch this coming summer.
  • Instagram (@PrettyLittleLiars): Having launched at the top in May 2014, it is the #1 most followed scripted series, with over 1.8 million followers, easily topping AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (1.2 million) and Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” (1.1 million).
  • Pinterest: “Pretty Little Liars” is also the #1 scripted show on the pinning platform.

“A”  True Breakout Brand goes beyond creating a contest or poll, or choosing one campaign over another, to engage followers. It’s about putting the subsequent ROI of those advertising dollars literally in the “ever-tweeting” hands of everyday people.

It’s a bold move, but one that looks destined to pay off because of the built-in potential consumer base. It’s no longer a matter of attracting the consumer – they are now vested in the marketing process. It’s advertising’s form of “crowdfunding,” if you will.

The overwhelming social media success of “Pretty Little Liars” has already spurred a popular clothing line with Aeropostale and even an unconventional social media sponsorship with Audi to share exclusive show content on Snapchat.

Together, ABC Family and the “Pretty Little Liars” brand show the characteristics of the rbb Breakout Brand philosophy, where creating powerful customer experiences is the top priority.

According to a survey by the polling firm IBOPE/Zogby International for rbb Public Relations, companies have to show consumers the love in order to attract and keep them in today’s dynamic marketplace. Of the 2,000 adults surveyed, 83 percent are willing to spend more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company — and one fifth of respondents said they would pay 50 percent or more if they felt the company put the customer first.

Imagine what that figure will be when you not only put the customer first, but in the driver’s seat.

Like “A,” who has managed to avoid identification and capture for the past five years, “Pretty Little Liars” approach really is genius.


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