Tag Archives: Branding

From First Kiss To First Kid: ABC Family Goes Freeform

On January 12, 2016, ABC Family officially became Freeform. This change came as quite the shock to some, and normally when a network is rebranding, it is because they are failing. But, this was not the case. Despite the rebranding and change of unmistakable name, that was announced early October of 2015, the same television shows would be aired. They will even keep their 25 Days of Christmas, Harry Potter Marathons, and Disney movie showings. Apparently this evolution of the network had been in the works for 10-12 years, according to network President, Tom Asheim, and the only thing left was to drop the name that the network had outgrown.

Free Form

So the big question is why change? ABC Family’s viewing demographic was changing and the main audience attracted was no longer those looking for the family-friendly show that the network had been so well known for. Over the past decade, the shows had been beginning to shift towards more teen and young adult content, which is part of the evolution that had been going on mentioned earlier. ABC Family decided to capitalize on the large group of millennials that make up a large part of television viewers in the country. The network’s core audience is viewers ages 14-34, which is an approximated 69 million people target audience. Can you say “Cha-ching”?

When rebranding, the network wanted to follow this huge market and keep up with the millennials as they grow older. They wanted for the network to move past this traditional family viewing and towards its target market of “Becomers”. These “Becomers” are people ages high school to thirty’s, who are asking themselves “Who am I becoming?” They decided to coin this stage of life the “Becoming” stage and those going through it “Becomers”. It is important for them to reiterate that this is a stage of life and not a generation, because they want to follow their viewers from their “first kiss” to their “first kid”.

The network had three main goals for the new name. They, first, wanted to really promote this idea if “Becomers” and the stage of life represented with Freeform. Second, they needed to capitalize on the crossing over and overlap from multiple platforms such as the many social media sites that content is discussed on or the multiple mediums and devices that viewers can use to access and watch Freeform content. The last goal for them was to really make the viewers feel something, and hopefully they would make them feel something positive, such as spark this feeling of “Be you”, “Be Bold”, “Find Yourself”, and so on. This really dives into the meaning behind the word “Freeform” and having no boundaries and making life your own.

Free Form2Of course, the biggest issue for the network was going to be brand awareness. For such a recognizable name to be changed to something completely new and unrelated is a big risk. They jumped on top of the marketing campaign right after the announcement in October and ran promotional ads heavily until January 12, especially through the 25 Days of Christmas that attracts a lot of viewers. They also pushed the social channels really hard with a hashtag to connect with millennials and a Gorilla marketing campaign that used fans’ user generated content the promote the name change for them. People are more involved than just watching the shows they love, they immerse themselves in the atmosphere and community of fans of the show through social media and networking sites by sharing opinions and favorites about the show. The fans were able to describe what the word “Freeform” meant to them to help express the representation behind the new name and what it stands for. One thing they really had to stress to people was that the stuff they loved on ABC Family would still be there. And so far, it looks like the transition has been very successful and well received by viewers.

Free Form3The last thing I found very interesting about the change is to look back and see exactly how much the channel has changed even over just the past ten years. This promo video from 2006 really promotes the family oriented shows and the feelings the occur in the shows, some of which in the video shown are Lincoln Heights, Wildfire, Beautiful People, Gilmore Girls, Fallen, and Kyle XY. This promo video previewing what Freeform will be showing in 2016 focuses more on independence and young adult storylines. Some of the shows in this video are Shadowhunters, The Fosters, Baby Daddy, Recovery Road, Young and Hungry and Pretty Little Liars. The content of the shows and the storylines have indeed evolved over the years as their core audience has changed. The shift is not something that will stop the network, because they will continue to roll with the punches, go with the flow, or you know…be #Freeform.

Ali Holtz

Connecting the Consumer

Consumers are more connected than ever in this day and age. Through social media brands are working on the most effective ways to connect with consumers. With multiple forms of social connection online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) users are looking to explore new content as well as utilize the sheer convenience of these online connectors. With this new trend, brands are starting to understand the pure power that a connected campaign can have.

Social ButtonsWhat is the true power of connecting with users through social media? Users are now spending more time online than ever and most of this time on social media. According to Adweek, “The average user logs 1.72 hours per day on social platforms, which represents about 28% of all online activity.” As these numbers grow, brands are working on making engaging ad campaigns that users can actually interact with.

One of the most impactful ad campaigns was done by Always called #LikeAGirl. This is one of my favorite ad campaigns ever. Not only did it show during the Super Bowl and gain millions of views, but it also engages the viewers into actually thinking about social equality. I would argue that this is the most compelling social ad campaign out there today.

LikeAGirlPerhaps you saw someone taking the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge on Facebook? This viral video trend didn’t involve a single dollar spent on promotion. People would share a video of them dumping ice water on their head and donating to ALS while sharing and tagging their friends so that they would have to do the same thing. The video phenomenon generated over 70 million views and raised over $220 million. Not to mention that it spread across 159 countries! Not only did this campaign raise hundreds of millions for a good cause but it also increased awareness and was a very interactive campaign.

These two examples alone show that connecting with consumers can have a groundbreaking effect. Connecting with consumers can change how typical marketing is done in respect to trying to make perfect models of people, and online strategies can be innovative and informative.

If users can relate to an ad campaign, and if they feel that it is genuine, then they will be compelled to share it. So long as people keep sharing, others will listen and share it too. Do you think these are these examples are flukes, or is online marketing truly groundbreaking? Is it just another way for marketers to manipulate us into getting what they want?

Taylor Bluemel