Marketing the 'Lost' TV Drama Series: ABC's Integrated Marketing Strategy

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG156
Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 2004-2006
Organization : ABC Entertainment
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : USA
Industry : Media and Entertainment

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"The show ('Lost') breaks so many rules, and we're really trying to do the same with our marketing and be organic."1

- Michael Benson, senior vice-president of marketing, at ABC Entertainment, in May 2006.

"If ever a show was designed to stretch the boundaries of engagement across media, it's ABC's 'Lost'. The show is a test case for how an integrated marketing campaign can powerfully combine channels in a more-than-addictive way."2

- Nanette Marcus and Jodi Harris, editors of iMedia Connection3, in May 2006.

"This [the trend of using gimmicks and other media to market TV programs] is dangerous because the networks are calling into question their own medium."4

- Jack Trout5, world-renowned marketing expert, in September 2005.

The 'Lost' Marketing Experience

On April 24, 2006, ABC Entertainment 6(ABC) along with UK's Channel 4 Television7 (Channel 4) and Australia's Seven Network8 (Seven Network) announced the launch of 'The Lost Experience' (TLE), a web-based alternative reality game9 (ARG). TLE was based on 'Lost', the hugely popular television series (TV series) in the US, which had acquired a strong fan following. The TV series took viewers through the day-to-day lives of the survivors of a plane crash, who were stranded on a mysterious tropical island. With TLE, ABC was seeking to engage its loyal fan base through yet another medium. The game was designed to reveal many secrets about the show, in which the mystery was yet to be unraveled even after two successful seasons had been completed.

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According to Mike Benson (Benson), senior vice-president of marketing at ABC, the clues to the game would be dispersed among a number of media and the players had to watch the TV shows including the commercials if they wanted to solve TLE.

ABC expected that TLE would be the optimal marketing tool, that would keep 'Lost' fans engaged and involved with the show during the summer,10 and bring them back when the show re-started for the third season in the fall of 2006. It also expected TLE to create a buzz around the show and rope in new viewers for the third season.

Benson said, "We see it as a kind of scavenger hunt meets a jigsaw puzzle. We wanted to create something that was a deeper, richer experience for fans and give fans something to carry them over between seasons. But we also wanted to create something so unique that they would want to share it with friends."11

Marketing the 'Lost' TV Drama Series: ABC's Integrated Marketing Strategy - Next Page>>

1] 'Lost' Game Lets Fans Hunt for Clues,", April 24, 2006.

2] Nanette Marcus and Jodi Harris, "ABC Integrates 'Lost' to Win,", May 31, 2006.

3] iMedia Connection is a publication of iMedia Communications (iC), an interactive media and marketing publisher and event producer. iC is now a part of dmg world media, the international exhibition and publishing company.

4] Brooks Barnes, "Networks Get Gimmicky to Hype New Shows,", September 2, 2005.

5] Jack Trout is one of the propounders of the 'positioning' theory and the 'marketing warfare' theory. He is the owner of the consulting firm, Trout & Partners.

6] ABC Entertainment is part of The ABC Television Network, and is managed by the Disney-ABC Television Group, a division of The Walt Disney Company. ABC Entertainment is responsible for the prime time and late-night entertainment programming for The ABC Television Network. (Source:

7] Channel 4 is a public-service TV broadcaster in the UK.

8] The Seven Network is an Australian television network. It is the largest free to air network in Australia in terms of coverage.

9] Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG) is a relatively new genre of games, wherein players interact with a fictional world using computers, the Internet, telephone, etc., which are normally used to interact with the real world. (Source:

10] The second season of 'Lost' ended on May 24, 2006, and the third season was launched in October 2006.

11] "Found: More 'Lost',", May 25, 2006.

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