LOST & found.

My role
Creative Director
Campaign Strategy, Art Direction, Consultation.
In 2006, LOST was a ratings juggernaut- the biggest show on TV- but in its third season had also started to suffer from the complicated plot twists and lack of answers. LOST was faced with an interesting problem and they tackled it head on, announcing they would end the show after 6 seasons, and there would be no more reruns or large gaps in the scheduling. It was an unprecedented move at the time, and helped regain a lot of momentum. Season 3 was about to return from hiatus and run uninterrupted for the rest of the season, and to help with this messaging, they turned to us.

Project Highlights

Integrated marketing campaign
Interactive social media content marketing
Programmatic online digital awareness campaign

The Problem Statement

Faced with not only getting the word out that everyone's favorite mysterious drama was returning to TV, but also communicating key scheduling changes- we took a wide-ranging approach to the campaign.

Laddering up to the integrated campaign, some ads showcased the drama of the show, focused on reminding fans what they loved about it, and others focused on bringing new fans up to speed so they could jump on board, while others pushed to an online scavenger hunt game. We used programmatic targeting to put the right messaging in front of the right people at the right time. The campaign evolved as the premier date approached, gradually revealing key information, much like the show itself slowly peeled back the layers of the mystery.

I set the look and feel of the campaign so despite the disparate messaging, all the ads felt cohesive and set inside the universe of the show everybody knew and loved.
The show's signature villain, the smoke monster, takes over MSN

The Concept

Our campaign was an eclectic combination of website take-overs, banner ads, augmented reality tie-ins, and rich media.

The goal was to hit our audience with a variety of looks and styles lifted directly from the aesthetic of the show. We also slowly ramped up the intrigue and urgency as the premier approached, using logic and AI to switch out campaign creative based on the date.
LOST fans were eager super fans who made a habit of hunting down easter eggs and analyzing every detail of the show. They engaged with marketing entirely differently than most audiences at the time, so we sought to draw them into a meaty multifaceted campaign leading them from one touchpoint to another, building excitement and driving toward that TV debut.

We worked with our programmatic strategy to match creative with unique placements, like leveraging the fictional airline from the show, Oceanic Airlines, on travel-themed websites, which drove to an ARG rather than even referencing the show directly.
Some ads aimed at superfans promoted the online mystery game, Find 815

The Strategy

The show was about to barrel forward with breakneck speed toward its inevitable conclusion.

No more reruns. No more mid-season breaks.

The show would air nothing but new episodes until its conclusion. This was revolutionary in broadcast television at the time. In the world before Netflix, this was as close to binging as you could get.

This formula would be copied by almost every major drama that has come after (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc.) and we used this as a key message in the ads, driving urgency in pre-streaming media landscape.

Key Takeaways

Following our rich media placements, the awareness campaign, and our innovative social media advertising, LOST debuted to its best premier numbers yet. The show was already a ratings juggernaut, but season 3 was generally received as its best season.

Such a dramatic shift in the programming strategy could have proven disastrous, but due to the raised awareness, it's not an exaggeration to say that LOST changed television forever. The programming changes ultimately had ripple effects through the industry, but so did ABC's unique and innovative approach to integrated digital marketing.

The strategy served as a precursor to the current binge trend by doing away with reruns and shortening the overall season. Many successful ABC shows followed the same model, from Grey’s Anatomy to later Revenge, Once Upon a Time, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder.