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USA Network breaks mobile effort for witness-protection drama

The Hyperfactory broke its first mobile marketing campaign for a television series with the launch of a mobile fan club for "In Plain Sight," a new witness-protection broadcast drama from USA Network.

The In Plain Sight Mobile Fan Club is part of a multichannel marketing effort that promotes a show based on the Federal Witness Protection Program, or WITSEC. The show's protagonist is a U.S. Marshal who is charged with protecting relocated federal witnesses from being killed.

"The rationale is that this game is the perfect parallel to the show's theme," said Jami Michelle Lawrence, mobile integration director at the Hyperfactory, New York.

Participation in the mobile effort is simple. Consumers visit the site at http://usanetwork.mobi or the show's signup page on the WAP microsite at http://game.inplainsight.mobi and don the role of a U.S. Marshal by selecting one of six witnesses to protect.

Players can learn about each witness by examining their profile and how they entered the witness-protection program. The players confirm the witness and are sent the first witness situation, which is a question about the selected witness and three optional decisions from which to choose.

In the next step, the players choose what they think is the best decision to keep the witness safe.

The WAP site refreshes to show the witness status. This page tells the players whether or not they chose wisely and kept their witness safe or in harm's way.

Players get weekly SMS text messages with a link to the WAP site to open next week's question.

Answering the weekly challenges correctly keeps the witness alive. The wrong answer can lead to the delivery of bad news or, at worst, get the witness killed. The player logically loses that week's mobile challenge.

To ensure the game stays interesting, all witness situations are rotated to make sure that no two witnesses receive the same question each week.

Also, the witness status is completely customized to a particular witness and the answer that the players chose. In essence, there are more than 290 different witness statuses that the players can uncover.

"I think it's really important as it keeps the consumer engaged with the program," Ms. Lawrence said. "It allows the consumer to have an overall connection to the show."

Can't-miss-marketing
A Universal Media Studios production shot entirely in and around Albuquerque, NM, In Plain Sight stars Mary Shannon, who had key roles in "The West Wing" and "Private Parts."

Other actors in the original series include Frederick Weller, Lesley Ann Warren, Nichole Hiltz, Paul Ben-Victor, Cristian de la Fuente and Todd Williams. David Maples and Paul Stupin are executive producers.

As U.S. Marshal, Ms. Shannon is tasked with relocating federal witnesses, some career criminals, others innocent people. One thing they all share in common: someone wants them dead. It is her job to see this doesn't happen, in addition to managing her dysfunctional family.

The In Plain Sight Mobile Fan Club game is part of a 13-week campaign that began Sunday, June 1 with In Plain Sight's debut on USA Network, an NBC Universal entertainment cable channel with distribution in 94 million homes.

The multichannel marketing effort includes print, radio, TV tune-in sweepstakes, street teams, aerial banners, airport terminals and planes, out of home media and a "Grand Central Station Domination" in New York.

In addition, interactive marketing agency electricArtists has launched a Facebook application for the show titled, "How well do you know your Facebook friends?"

Another effort is with Big Spaceship to create WITSEC Confidential. Starting with episode 2, players can login to the WITSEC Confidential microsite at http://ips.usanetwork.com to participate in a new interactive case.

Also, In Plain Sight posters that are motion-activated and audio-enabled have been placed through the New York metro area with messages such as "Welcome to witness protection. Now get lost."

USA Network's In Plain Sight is the latest addition to the Hyperfactory list of clients which includes Coca-Cola, Vodafone, Purina, Toyota Motor and Motorola. The Hyperfactory is a provider of mobile marketing services.

The USA Network account comes soon after the Hyperfactory hired interactive marketing expert Liz Jones to head its entertainment division in Los Angeles.

Ms. Jones was previously vice president of Fox Mobile Studios and, prior to that, vice president of digital marketing for Twentieth Century Fox. She is charged with persuading entertainment companies to run mobile campaigns for their brands.

"This [In Plain Sight] program relied a lot less on our technical ability and more on our creative and strategic ability," Ms. Lawrence said. "So, from conception to execution, the content of the [mobile] campaign was created by the Hyperfactory with collaboration with the USA Network."