Telemundo's New Webisodes Built With Audience in Mind -- Literally
By John Consoli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/2/2012 2:11:24 PM
The creation concept grew out of the Beyond Demographics Latino Identity Study, conducted by Telemundo Media in partnership with Starcom MediaVest Group. The study looked into psychographic segments of U.S. Hispanics as opposed to gathering the traditionally used demographic segments.
In effect, the series sprang specifically out of research done by a media agency and TV network, and the character and storylines were developed not only based on that research, but with the goal of drawing an audience that will identify with the main character and the plot because of various commonalities they share. This varies greatly from the traditional development of a TV series, where a creator has an idea, approaches a studio, the pilot is shot and a network picks it up, believing it will target an audience demo by age or sex.
"We wanted to contextualize our audience, but not just based on age and language data," says Christine Escribano, VP of integrated marketing solutions for Telemundo Media. "We broke up the audience into 12 different identity groups based on all sorts of data including behavior patterns, social patterns and what motivates and drives them. One of the segments was the Modern Independent Achiever, and the character of Mia for the series was based on the insights derived from the study that pertains to Mia.
"We basically made a list of passion points for the character based on the study," Escribano continues. "And we created a typical day in the life of this person. What she does, when she wakes up, how she goes through her day. Who her friends are. How she interacts with them, and also with her family. What she does at work. Then we created Mia's storyline and called it Mia's World."
Escribano then got together with Mimi Belt, Telemundo's VP of branded entertainment, who created a script for the series, and from the script a pilot was developed.
The process began in September 2010 and by March 2011, Telemundo had a video pilot which it showed at all of its client meetings for last year's upfront, between March and May. At those meetings, Telemundo offered those clients the opportunity to have a branded role in the series, and two advertisers bought in: Verizon Wireless and General Motors' Chevrolet brand.
One of Mia's main characteristics, as with most Modern Independent Achievers, according to the research study, is that she speaks both Spanish and English, and has multicultural friends. So, Telemundo decided to install some characters in the series that speak only English. It will be the first time that has happened in a Telemundo novela of any kind.
"In the series, [Mia] does bridge both the Spanish and English speaking world," Escribano says. "She speaks only Spanish at home to her grandmother. She speaks both to her boyfriend. She speaks English at work and both to her friends."
In conjunction with the Hispanics at NBCU initiative -- which was launched in 2011 to connect marketers and advertisers to Hispanic audiences across NBCU's portfolio of networks and properties -- Telemundo reached out to English-language network Bravo to cast two English-only-speaking actresses. The actresses chosen currently star on two Bravo reality series: Jenni Pulos, from Bravo's Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis will have a recurring role in the series, and Gretchen Rossi from The Real Housewives of Orange County will make a guest appearance. Neither will play themselves.
Escribano says the branded integrations for the Chevy Camaro and Chevy Cruze, as well as for the Verizon mobile phones and tablets, were written into the script and are seamless. She says each brand will be in each of the three-minute webisodes at least once, and could be mentioned more. They will be the only sponsors of the 13 webisodes.
After the final episode runs, the 13 will be woven together; in addition, viewers will be able to vote online and choose between two possible endings to the series. The episodes, including the winning ending, will all be put together for the one-hour TV special that will air on mun2. Escribano says regular commercial time will be sold for that special.
Telemundo has also given Verizon Wireless five behind-the-scenes blooper videos that will be made available exclusively on the Verizon video app during the length of the series.
Telemundo will run on-air minute-long teasers for the webisode series. There will also be cross-promotion on Telemundo's entertainment show LevÃ¡ntate and on its local entertainment program Acceso Total. Telemundo.com will air extended scenes, character bios, photo galleries and polls, along with the final voting for the ending. There will also be online showcases of the Chevrolet vehicles and the Verizon Wireless devices.
A Facebook page for Mia Mundo will include weekly posts from the Mia character, along with custom polls, videos and a place to vote for the series ending. The series will get promotion across all of NBCU's digital properties.
Escribano says that while this is the first time something like this is being done, plans are already in the works by the branded entertainment department to do more such projects, using psychographic and other research data to target audiences and create story lines for series.
She adds that as the show airs, Telemundo will also measure viewing patterns both online and through social media.
Escribano is hoping that the series will get attention from both Spanish- and English-speaking audiences, not to mention the advertiser clients who will witness a new way of integrating brands into TV series. With the characters based, in essence, on real-life behaviors of viewers, the fact that those "behaviors" include the use of certain brands could turn out to be a win-win all around.
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