Foxtel needed our help to make Season 5 of their Australian female prison drama Wentworth, the No. 1 show on TV every week by engaging the fans. The previous season had achieved this – with 50% more budget.
Our investment challenge was compounded by a fundamental shift in viewer behavior.
Wentworth fans are highly committed to the show with its enticing cliff-hangers and plot-twisting story line, (which had kept them tuned in every week), fans were now stopping themselves from watching live weekly, just so they could binge-watch all the episodes back-to-back in solitary, after the season end.
Women 35-50 are the engine room for Wentworth ratings, with our social media analysis highlighting that each fan feeds off each other and fuels anticipation for the next episode. They tune-in as a social experience. Our insight was that if just one Wentworth fan waits to binge they compromise their entire network. The social experience is fragile: spoiler etiquette stifles their excitement and the group waits for the last member to catch up. Our media had to ensure every fan had someone to fuel their excitement every week.
The impact of having two separate sets of viewers was stifling the excitement of the wider group and diluting the overall communal Wentworth experience. The strategy was clear - we had to get everyone on the same screen.
To convert binge-watchers back to appointment to view we created a brand new anonymous inmate - a ‘prison Rat’ with access-all-areas on the inside, who could smuggle out secrets, prison gossip and exclusive content to viewers every week. That's why we created a virtual companion through Messenger.
By creating a virtual Wentworth character through Facebook Messenger it gained more trust with the fans and had more credibility than any influencer could. As an inmate she had more access than anyone else. She contacted fans through a contraband phone to smuggle out secrets, prison gossip and exclusive content every week. This created a ground-breaking pre-planned framework where our virtual character responded to developments in the episode and fan sentiment in real time.
Following each episode, we invited fans to join a live-stream debrief in the Interrogation Room. Here they could see talent each plot point, debate theories and acknowledge key fans. This was more than a chatbot - this was a new way to watch.
By nurturing a two-way conversation with fans, we were able to spark anticipation and excitement about each episode, listen in to our viewer’s reactions and amplify the conversation around Wentworth by getting everyone personally involved.
The Wentworth Rat was an unprecedented asset through which we were able to fulfill all of our clients’ business objectives. It created deep engagement with all Wentworth fans, by speaking directly to them - which helped us change viewer behavior and get binge-watchers back to enjoying the show every week with all of their friends. With the Wentworth Rat as their constant companion, viewers were kept engaged with the show all the way through from the first episode to the season finale.
There were three main parts to our campaign execution. Phase 1 was all about introducing the Wentworth Rat to our audience, which we did through a series of enticing cryptic social media posts. To create intrigue and keep fans guessing, we showed various Wentworth inmates inside the prison handling a smuggled mobile phone. We also went live with ‘breaking news’ footage of the prison governor refusing to comment on rumours of a Rat inside Wentworth. These teasers saw social media conversations triple as fans tried desperately to find out what was going on.
During phase 2, we needed to get the fans onside by gaining their trust. So, as they became more and more desperate to make contact with the Rat, we developed a ground breaking Facebook Messenger ‘Rat Chatbot’ app, giving them direct access. We scripted every potential interaction to earn their trust, allowing our Rat to rally the troops before each episode with secret video clips, GIF’s, sound bites and the latest gossip.
The final phase of our campaign was to make every single episode a unique live experience. So, during each live broadcast fans could ask the Rat direct questions and get a response in real-time about the latest goings-on inside - which helped make the following week’s episode another must-see.
The Rat invited fans to join the ‘Interrogation Room’ a special Facebook Live broadcast we created, for additional exposure and engagement around each episode - further encouraging fans to tune in next week with their new foul-mouthed friend.