Known for its crime and drama shows, CBS Person Of Interest was one of the most anticipated dramas scheduled by CBS in 2011, which is still gathering millions of Dollars in ad revenue for the studio till date. Created by Jonathan Nolan and executive produced with J.J Abrams, the series casts a shadow on the post 9/11 attacks in New York where a billionaire programmer built a system to detect terrorist threats and with a “backdoor” access to the system, recruits the expertise of a former CIA agent to help him save the person of interest whose number has been provided by the system. Slotted on Thursdays at 9 PM, the show has beaten ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and NBC comedies The Office and Whitney in overall viewers eventually receiving the 2012 people’s Choice Awards in the category of Favorite New TV Drama.
In an attempt to reach its target audience, CBS enlisted two major offline tools to keep its audience informed and engaged. These included interactive billboards and a QR code. In a September 23rd article by ScreenMadia Daily, CBS studio enlisted the expertise of Inwindow Outdoor, a digital out-of-home advertising company, to run street-level advertising campaigns in New York and Los Angeles. These two screens were unique because they not only took a picture of the street viewer and generate a number for the viewer to text to have access to their image on their smartphone, but went as far as extracting information from the user’s Facebook page (after they share their photo with their friends) to create a “dossier” about the user and their Facebook friends who could be involved in the series’ fictitious government plot. This was not only informative for the viewer but an engaging experience for them as well.
In one of the episodes of the show, a QR code appeared which sent some viewers and fans into a frenzy of hidden secret or mystery. In a forum that lengthily discussed the use of this code, considering the technological nature of the show, it was deciphered that the code led to a real estate website and YouTube video. If this was a mistake, then it was a great buzz generator because the discussion in many forums to crack this code kept viewers wondering what J.J Abrams, had in store for them.
Before acquiring such a success for this product (Person Of Interest), CBS used SMM tools to reach its target audience and keep them engaged without giving out too much. As one of the major Television Studios, CBS enforced its dominance in primetime TV by running multiple ads to its viewers during NFL and college football games on CBS. George Schweitzer, president of the CBS Marketing Group, also collaborated with the show’s co-executive producers, which include J.J. Abrams (co-creator of “Lost”) and Jonathan Nolan (co-writer of “The Dark Knight”). Placing the show in mid-week at the 9 PM time slot was also a very strategic marketing decision on behalf of the marketing executives at the studio.