- WGN America, the cable and satellite channel owned by Tribune Broadcasting, and digital agency RED Interactive created a detective story chatbot to promote the premiere of the series "Bellevue." The Facebook Messenger chatbot challenges users to solve a fictional crime story that includes key scenes and characters from the show, according to a statement made available to Mobile Marketer.
- The chatbot acts like a choose-your-own-adventure story with 25 unique pathways for users to select as they play as a rookie detective working to solve a crime in the show's town of Bellevue.
- The final scene of the chatbot crime story acts as a prequel to the opening scene in the series premiere, which aired on January 23. Viewers who solve the chatbot case get to see an exclusive trailer clip from the first episode.
WGN America's "Bellevue" chatbot is a clever way to promote the show's premiere and hook viewers to main characters and important scenes from the series. The chatbot resembles the storytelling methods of apps like "Hooked" that prompt mobile users to tap their phone screens to advance the narrative. As WGN America points out in the statement, some viewers like to play "armchair detective" when watching crime shows to guess at the possible culprit.
The Bellevue chatbot aims to engage viewers with the narrative while promoting the show. Viewers who try out the chatbot received notifications to remind them to tune into its premiere this week, making it a relatively seamless and entertaining experience. WGN America also bought ad placements on Facebook to raise awareness around the show and drive traffic to the chatbot on Messenger, which has about 1.3 billion users worldwide.
WGN American joins other broadcasters that are rolling out Messenger chatbots to engage Facebook users with their programming. HGTV last week introduced "Hazel," a chatbot that lets viewers sign up for curated daily design tips, browse decorating and renovation ideas from shows, explore trends and save photo galleries. Messenger has more than 200,000 chatbots, including shopping ones from Saks and ProFlowers aiming to provide holiday gift guidance and one-click ordering. Though all the chatbots share the underlying goal of directly connecting with customers, the Bellevue effort appears to provide more of a clear-cut promotional feature to drum up excitement for the series' premiere while also engaging potential viewers in a fun way.
Facebook anticipates that more brands and businesses will get on board with the chatbot platform in the months to come, David Marcus, head of Messenger, said this month in a blog post.