ABC Launches Pan-Am With Big Social Buzz

ABC Launches New Show Pan Am With Social Buzz. photo via Facebook page.ABC Network just launched Pan-Am, a new show about the 1960’s stewardesses and pilots on the famous airline.   Social media played a huge part in promoting the new series, and Lost Remote interviewed Marla Provencio, Executive Vice President of Marketing for ABC, about how social elements figured into the launch.

The network was aiming to reach two main demographics:  the older generations with memories of Pan-Am back in its heyday, and the “Mad Men-loving” younger generation that is “travel hungry” and “psyched about the new world” that the series will present.

The major elements of ABC’s social media strategy for Pan-Am:

  • a strong presence at Comic-Con, including a flight simulator at the convention with people going into the plane every hour on the hour, and Pan-Am bag give-aways (which became “walking billboards” for the series throughout San Diego)
  • a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter
  • a Facebook app – the Pan-Am flight crew – which “encourages fans to get post-cards and unlock content”
  • a Twitter contest – the idea of a ‘Pan Am Twitter powered flight‘ was born, with fans ‘winning’ prizes along the way, including the Pan-Am bag or an exclusive video
  • a partnership with luxury deals site Gilt Group and Jetsetter as “a reflection of style and what the show emulates”

Traditional advertising was also used to promote the show.  According to Provencio, the breakdown for Pan-Am was 70% to 30% traditional vs. online.  While she believes some shows “scream out” for an online presence, in general paid traditional media is used to create awareness, and then digital strategies are more effective once basic awareness is in place.

This combination of traditional and social media has produced positive results. On the day of the series premiere, Trendrr (which tracks social and realtime engagement on TV) listed Pan Am as the #1 show on TV. Less than a month after launch, the show’s Facebook account has over 243,000 fans, and the Twitter account has over 18,000 followers.  While Nielsen is still working on measuring how viewers arrived at a show (though on-air ads, print, Facebook or Twitter, among others), Provencio is optimistic that viewers were “surrounded” by buzz about the show.  According to Mashable’s report of SocialGuide’s social media tracking, Pan Am ranked third out of the fall network TV premieres, with 11,465 unique viewers, and 17,535 comments across all social networks.

When asked what was most successful about the campaign, Provencio cited the incorporation of fashion, especially the Pan-Am bag that was given away through social media promotions, including a #hashtag contest on-air.  People really responded to the “excitement and glamour” of the Pan-Am brand and how “wonderful and stylish” Pan-Am travel seemed at the time.

ABC will follow up with Pan-Am’s social media strategy by looking at each outlet to see what is and isn’t working.  The network has already added content, including webisodes on about real Pan-Am stewardesses.

The question now:  will ABC’s social media strategy pay off in the long run, after the initial Pan-Am ‘buzz’ wears off?

**********UPDATE********** (and thanks to @omarg for alerting us to this recent story about Pan-Am):

Apparently social buzz only gets a series so far – as of this past Monday, Pan-Am already took a serious dive in the preliminary ratings.  According to Entertainment Weekly, this 27% drop in ratings could signal a “death watch alert” where “chances for renewal drop precipitously.”