I love the tv show Lost. It's an intelligent, fun and exciting show full of mystery and suspense. But what is really amazing is how Lost is becoming much more than a tv show. By the second season, more than 5 podcasts were regularly being produced from fans. These shows garnered tens of thousands of listeners. Weblogs and Internet forums followed. A huge Internet community has sprung up around Lost. It's not the first of this phenomenon. Star Wars, Star Trek, Alias and other sci-fi and fantasy shows have similar fans who meet and mingle on the Net.
But with Lost, the producers have embraced the new media and are using it themselves to extend the brand. First was the official Lost podcast with two of the main writers. It's a well produced show with some behind the scenes reflections from the actual writers themselves as well as exclusive interviews with the cast. Then, producers created a website for the Hanso Foundation, a fictitious company that plays an important role in the show. On this website are more clues to the overall mystery. Now, this summer, they are going all out. A brand new Hanso website along with other specialized sites are creating what is being called a "Lost Experience". Clues lead to more clues that lead to other websites. They have linked this on-line experience with the show itself producing a Hanso Foundation ad that runs on tv and directs people to different websites. One ad contained a phone number that connected fans to a voicemail system that provided many tasty clues to the show.
From a marketing perspective, producers and advertisers are getting together and fans will find various sponsors cleverly included in the Lost Experience. Monster.com, Verisign, and Sprite have been early participants. These sponsors are so well integrated into the experience, they hardly seem like ads.
Starting next season, Lost producers will embrace the mobile market and produce special "mobisodes" or special short episodes for mobile phones. This is absolutely brilliant and will be yet another avenue to interact with and market to viewers. NBC now is asking that all their future shows have interactive elements to them as well. Maybe these new on-line, interactive elements for tv will finally break the couch potato mentality of many Americans.