Yep, you read that right. “Written by a character.”
For those of you that watch Castle, this statement doesn’t shock you. For those of you that don’t, the show revolves around an author named Richard Castle who partners with New York Homicide Detective Kate Beckett to solve crimes. He uses her as inspiration for his books and actually helps solve cases.
But let me elaborate about Castle’s ingenious brand integration.
It isn’t enough that you just watch ABC’s show. They want you to connect with the characters, follow the title character on social media, and buy their merchandise. And I don’t just mean picking up a fan-designed TV shirt from their CafePress store, I mean buying one of Richard Castle’s books.
Even though Richard Castle is a character on a TV show, ABC has released three novels and one graphic novel under the character’s name. Not Nathan Fillion (the actor who plays Castle), not someone from the writing staff, just the character, Richard Castle. ABC has also gone the extra mile to get him a Twitter account, Facebook page, completely fleshed-out website with synopses of all of the his books and blog posts, and author page on Hyperion Books’ website.
So ABC has taken fiction, placed it into reality, and then brings it back to fiction. There’s hardly an episode in Castle when one of his novels isn’t mentioned. There are a few instances where Castle specifically mentions tweeting things that are posted on the character’s Twitter account.
How does the show do all of this brand integration without breaking their marketing budget? Twitter and Facebook are free, the Richard Castle website is an extension of the Castle show page, and there are perks for having your show on a Disney-owned network. Hyperion Books, the publisher of the Castle novels, is owned by Disney. Marvel, the publisher of the Castle-penned graphic novel, is also owned by Disney.
I know, you’re wondering how this applies to you and your business. While we would all love to have Disney’s multimedia resources, we can still follow the Castle model of success with the resources we do have.
Give customers options to interact with your brand. Designing a user-friendly website is a great start, but take it a step further and create a Facebook page and Twitter account. Start a blog, post frequently, and give it a featured spot on your homepage. Film a YouTube video and put it on your “About Us” page. Try and reply to tweets and wall posts as frequently as you can without becoming overkill – people love recognition!
Let your customers connect with your “characters.” Does your brand have a mascot? If so, consider creating a Twitter account or Facebook page just for your mascot. Besides Rick Castle, characters from The Office have Twitter accounts, Colonel Tribune of the Chicago Tribune has an account, and Mayhem from the Allstate commercials has over one million fans on Facebook.
If you don’t think your mascot is ready to take the leap to an individual account, have him “take over” your Twitter or Facebook account for a week. No mascot? Then solicit articles for your blog from different employees in your company to give your blog a fresh perspective and introduce the employees to your readers.
Take advantage of what you have. I won’t rehash too much of what Jana said, but make sure that you are using every single one of your resources. I’m not just talking about using equipment and software that you already own, but also find out what hidden talents your employees have. Maybe one of your customer service reps is amazing at graphic design, or perhaps your accountant has a brilliant idea to streamline invoicing. You know that Castle won’t stop until it taps into each of Disney’s resources, so make what you have work for you.
Creating an immersive brand experience like Castle is difficult, but the payout is great. Fans feel more connected with your brand and will be much more likely to use your services or products in the future. Connecting with your client base is absolutely key.
Now that Heat Rises has landed a number one spot on the New York Times Best Seller list, I’m willing to bet that Castle will get an early renewal for their fifth season. Another season means another book, and so the cycle continues…
Are you familiar with Castle and their immersive branding practices? Know of any other shows or brands that have a similar model? If so, what are some of the techniques they use?