A lot has changed since Project Runway debuted 10 seasons ago on Bravo. For a start, it's no longer on Bravo — and TV is no longer a one-way, passive experience but more about hybrid TV/social viewing these days, of course. So P.R.'s TV home, US women's cabler Lifetime, is leveraging visual social platforms Pinterest, Instagram, Piictu and Viddy ahead of the 10th season debut on July 19.
While still maintaining Facebook and Twitter marketing, Lifetime's "Make it Work" season launch campaign — a reference to P.R. mentor Tim Gunn's catchphrase — asks viewers “to share images and videos that inspire fans to showcase their fashion choices and encourage armchair designers nationwide to share their style" to spur buzz and tune-in.
"The timing is perfect for Project Runway to take advantage of the rising popularity of visual social networks," stated Dan Suratt, EVP, Digital Media and Business Development, A&E Networks, which owns Lifetime. "We've had great success engaging the Project Runway audience on Twitter so we're excited to provide more ways for our fans to interact with the show with their own fashion photos and videos on additional social platforms."
Cable networks including Bravo, The Weather Channel and Food Network have dipped a toe in the waters of Pinterest while on broadcast, the CBS series NCIS: Los Angeles has used Instagram for a contest that resulted in a user's photo included in the finale, but Lifetime's full-on embrace of visual social networking is a first.
The campaign, previewed on billboards, buses and phone kiosks in New York (where a 10th anniversary party took over Times Square last week) and Los Angeles, is the first time any TV network has integrated with Viddy, the social-media site that began turning videos into 15-second mini movies last year. "Viddy can capture behind-the-scenes content and quick Q&As in a practically real-time feed that fans can engage with and can be shared on other social-media platforms," commented Viddy CEO Brett O'Brien to Ad Age.
It’s also a first for Piictu, an iPhone app makes pictures into conversations and games through a picture stream. "The visual capabilities of these platforms can showcase the personality of the brand in a different way and are good vehicles for crowdsourcing," A&E's Evan Silverman told Ad Age. "Of course, Twitter and Facebook are still valuable, but these social-media platforms encourage different behavior from users."
Social touchpoints for the 10th season kick-off include:
• Instagram: The @OfficialProjectRunway account will post photos – tagged #MakeItWork – of existing work from the upcoming season's designers to introduce their unique styles. (Using #MakeItWork makes more sense as a tag because "Project Runway" pulls in all global variations on the show.)
• Pinterest: "LifetimeTV" will use its "Fashion Time" board to post and repin photos from the Pinterest community using #MakeItWork (not to be confused with Modcloth's #makeitwork contest on Pinterest).
• Piictu: @projectrunway will create "piicture" streams by posting photos of fabric, accessories, colors and patterns and challenging followers to show off their fashion sense by prompting them to post using various design elements such as: "Animal prints. #MakeItWork." During the season, the conversation will continue with "picture" stream challenges inspired by each episode.
• Viddy: Show fans will have access to a brief introduction from each designer and how they "make it work" through their own 15-second video clip posted to Viddy from the Project Runway account. Fans are encouraged to post their Viddy responses, while engagement will continue with exclusive videos from designers throughout the season.
On Twitter, @Lifetime and @ProjectRunway are also encouraging fans to tweet images using the hashtag #MakeItWork for a weekly prize.