Clue - it goes beyond popularity into talkability.
- I'm not sure water-coolers had made it over to the UK when Morecambe and Wise were holding down viewing figures of 28 million for their Christmas specials, but they certainly made popular TV programmes which people then talked about. In fact, they still do.
- The Today programme did a great piece this morning about how fans are "clubbing together" (at £100 a pop) to see their favourite old bands (the example they used was The Blow Monkeys, no less) regroup and play a private gig a la Kylie in Dubai. The communities are already there - but one clever person (can't find his name online) is helping to bring them together around a common theme - seeing a band they love again.
- Last night BBC One's Survivors programme launched, prompting a vigorous live (and often critical) back-channel debate on twitter.
What all three of these examples demonstrate is some sort of talkability. Or in Hugh Macleodspeak, they're all examples of great social objects - whether that's M&W's sketches, Dr Robert's £100 a pop acoustic set, or some big budget remade TV.
Once again MacLeod is on the money. The task for marketers/PRs/digital types going forward is to provide or piggy-back on social objects like these to generate buzz/support for the brands. We could do well to learn from the broadcasters/gig organisers.
They're letting their fans feel like they belong/influence something they clearly like. Building stronger bonds, if you will.
Cloverfield, Lost etc etc have done this sort of thing very well before. Snakes on a Plane was probably sidetracked by the whole thing, but 10 points to the BBC (presumably [update 24/11, though @wearesurvivors say they're not official BBC]) for setting up @wearesurvivors (the programme's backstory) on Twitter, and the follow-through website, Northmoor plc.
So far, it looks likethis back story might be a bit more captivating than the programme itself.
I for one will be watching with interest.
As long as I can shake of this sniffle and funny lump under my arm this morning...