AToMic Awards: Viewers live out their reality dreams

The CBC, Loblaws, Stanfield's and L'Oreal take traditional reality-show engagement to new levels, allowing audiences to control the outcome of content.

It’s been 13 years since Richard Hatch won the first season of CBS’s Survivor, the show that made reality TV mainstream and ushered in, well, more Survivor, along with the likes of American Idol, Hell’s Kitchen, and Duck Dynasty.

Now, a new crop of shows have emerged that go beyond traditional engagement (read: call in your vote), and some brands have been leading this charge. Last year, the CBC, Loblaws, Stanfield’s and L’Oréal took engagement to new levels, fostering committed audiences by allowing them to interact with contestants and control the outcome of reality content.

The CBC’s Over the Rainbow (launched in September to cast the role of Dorothy in the Mirvish production of The Wizard of Oz) allowed viewers to be a part of the show each week by providing online challenges to earn more votes for their favourite Dorothy. For instance, “Rainbow Happy Hour” where viewers could earn 10 additional votes by answering a skill-testing question, increased site traffic by 45%, says Jennifer Dettman, head of factual entertainment at CBC

In addition, the broadcaster deployed an app that allowed viewers to rate a performance in real-time and see the ratings on their screen.

“It’s a very competitive TV landscape right now and we want those people feeling like they’re part of [the show], that they’re loyal to it, that they think about it, remember it and come back to us the following week,” Dettman says.

More than 200,000 people visited the website during the show’s season, contributing to 5.2 million page views.

Another show that involved the audience and took participation right into store aisles was Recipe to Riches, a joint effort by Loblaws, Food Network and Temple Street Productions. It featured non-professional cooks competing to create the best recipe within a food category. Viewers could purchase the weekly winner’s product, under the President’s  Choice banner at a Loblaws store the day after an episode aired and then vote for their fave. Loblaws says the program gave the President’s Choice brand some of its best-selling products in the last 10 years.

Some brands took reality beyond television. Underwear brand Stanfield’s spin on reality programming appeared online and left the fate of a man trying to “gitchhike” across Canada (in just his underwear) in the hands of viewers. In a follow-up to the company’s “The Guy at Home in His Underwear” campaign (last year’s AToMiC Grand Prix), the company and its agency, John St., helped viewers track testicular-cancer survivor Mark McIntyre’s progress via They could also help the Gitchhiker with gifts, dares or by offering him a ride.

“It allowed consumers to engage in the process, however they chose,” says Jon Stanfield, president, Stanfield’s.

The campaign generated more than 43 million media impressions, while underwear sales increased by 50% during the campaign and the company’s Facebook fans increased by 500%.

L’Oréal also went online to involved its consumers in a reality show, teaming with Rogers Media and ZenithOptimedia to develop “Canada’s Best Beauty Talent” in April, 2012.

The webisodic reality program partnered hair and makeup artists for weekly challenges, with one artist eventually being crowned overall winner.

From April 8 until July 2, received 42,796 unique visitors and 162,272 total video views, while 79% of viewers indicated an intent to purchase.

What Marie-Josée Lamothe, CMO and CCO, L’Oréal Canada, was most impressed with was how the online-only series engaged both beauty professionals and consumers.

She saw both groups interacting on social media platforms, with L’Oréal brands joining the conversation.

“I thought it was wonderful to bring both the trade and the consumers on the same simultaneous platform, on a common topic, which was beauty,” Lamothe says.

The Hardware

AToMiC CSR: Gold / AToMiC Idea: Silver / Best Brand Integration: Bronze – Stanfield’s “The Gitchhiker” John St.
Best Broadcast Engagement: Silver – CBC “Over the Rainbow”
AToMiC Collaboration: Silver – Loblaws “Recipe to Riches Season Two” / Temple Street Productions/The Food Network
AToMiC ROI: Bronze – L’Oreal Canada “Canada’s Best Beauty Talent” / L’Oréal Canada/Rogers Media