Last May when NBC canceled its time-travel series, Timeless, the show’s fans were distraught and made no attempt to hide it. Then suddenly, as if by magic, NBC’s programming executives renewed the show for a second season.
“It was a reversal of fortunes, and it speaks to the fact that there is a very passionate fan base for this show,” says Jared Goldsmith, SVP, marketing strategy and digital, NBC Entertainment. “We loved seeing the passion the fans had. We loved seeing how vocal they were when they thought the show wasn’t coming back. It illustrated how much they connected with the show, and we saw it as an opportunity to connect with that.”
Playing off the show’s time travel theme, Goldsmith and his team created a “Save the Date” promo, which debuted during the Winter Olympics.
“We had to wait for scheduling to be solidified before we could use it, but we’d always talked about having fun with the save-the-date concept,” Goldsmith says. “We wanted to make sure we were using that big platform that the Olympics provides to make something that would really whet the appetite and tap into things that would get the fans excited—like the relationships, and peeking into these different time periods and worlds.”
Fans rabidly dissected the promo frame by frame, searching for clues about the upcoming season, which Goldsmith says proves the spot connected with the audience.
Illustrator Kyle Lambert was hired to turn the marketing team’s concepts in to key art.
“He really gave it a feel that spoke to the fun and adventure of the show. We love the artwork, and fans reacted in such a positive way that we’re turning it into posters and tee-shirts and other kinds of merch. It’s not always that you put out a piece of marketing material that fans latch onto, so it was great to see that reaction.”
But the core piece of the Timeless campaign focuses on empowering the show’s fans.
“They call themselves the Clock Blockers,” Goldsmith explains. “We thought a great way to connect with the fans would be to showcase the amazing creativity that comes from them.”
Fan art will be featured in merchandise and across the show’s website and social media pages.
“We’re going to highlight a fan of the week and capture their reactions and overlay their tweets and comments onto different pieces of artwork. We want to be part of that community. We love Timeless as much as they do.”
Randomly selected Clock Blockers were invited to the Timeless season premiere event. The hope is that live tweeting and Instagram Stories from fans—as well as cast and crew—will create conversations and galvanize support of the show.
Throughout the season, fans can learn additional details about the time period of each episode via Facebook Milestones, #TimelessTrivia, and a Fashion Through the Decades feature.
The show’s historian, David Hoffman, helps Goldsmith’s team flesh out the facts when needed. A complementary web series will offer insights from the cast and crew about each new episode.
“The show takes authenticity very seriously, and we’ve built that into the creative itself,” Goldsmith says.
Making fans such a big focus of the Timeless campaign was more than a way to have fun.
“From a marketing perspective, we wanted to highlight that passion,” Goldsmith says. “That means using them in the creative we develop; it’s rewarding them with surprise and delight tactics, but it’s also teasing them a bit about what’s to come.”
[Images courtesy of NBC]