EXCLUSIVE: With social-media powerhouse Bridgit Mendler’s addition to the cast of Undateable, NBC pulled out the digital stops to promote the former Disney Channel star and singer ahead of tonight’s Season 2 debut, an online push the company is touting as unique for scripted entertainment shows.
Mendler has a huge presence on social media, with 8.1 million likes on Facebook, 4.6 million followers on Twitter and 1.1 million followers on Instagram. Her music-video site on Vevo has 1.2 million subscribers, and her songs Hurricane and Ready or Not have a combined 178 million views. That is not a typo. She also just launched an account on burgeoning messaging site SnapChat.
‘We just thought it was a great opportunity with a new cast member with roots in music and comedy acting” to try something new, said Rob Hayes, EVP of Digital for NBC Entertainment.
So, Mendler wrote a song and worked with co-star Brent Morin and the rest of the show’s cast to create a funny music video that already has grabbed more than 100,000 views (see above) and another 620,000 views on Facebook. Mendler and Morin will continue to create new music videos that will post each Monday before the show, which runs at 9 pm (ET/PT) Tuesdays.
The cast also cut 24 brief promotional videos featuring cast members. Each video is targeted to a prominent YouTube search topic, such as video games, movie trailers (including one for a certain huge-selling erotic drama distributed by NBC sister company Universal), NBC show The Voice, animals, sports and dating. The promos will then be pre-roll advertising for whatever the searcher is watching.
The pre-roll pieces (see below for specific examples) began running March 7 and wrap up today.
The videos are running in part or in whole on more than YouTube, Hayes said. As is increasingly the case, bits of the material have chopped into pieces that can run, and find fans, on the native video players for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as NBC’s own video players on its own sites. The main home for the material, however, has been on Mendler’s own Facebook page, with its massive following.
One key to the initiative was having a showrunner in Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town, Spin City) who was strongly supportive, said Hayes. He and some of the show’s writers contributed to the promo scripts, among other involvement in the social push.
More generally, Hayes said, leveraging Mendler’s huge social footprint feeds into the network’s broader strategy of pushing video from its shows across all the major social-media platforms.
“Most shows need to do that now to break out of the clutter,” Hayes said.
Mendler, who appeared on Disney shows such as Good Luck Charlie and The Wizards of Waverly Place, is joining the show’s ensemble cast of mismatched friends, playing a new waitress working in the unsuccessful Detroit bar that Morin’s character runs.
Lawrence created the show with Adam Sztykiel, and they are executive producers along with Jeff Ingold. Doozer is producing the show in association with Warner Bros. Television.
Below are some of the 24 promo shorts the cast shot for preroll ads on YouTube: