'Project Runway' Turns to Pinterest and Other Visual Social Networks

In Unusual Move, Cable Show Taps Pinterest, Instragram, Piictu and Viddy to Involve Fans

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Twitter and Facebook could start taking a backseat in the latest TV-show campaigns. To promote the tenth season of "Project Runway," Lifetime is relying on visual social networks like Pinterest, Instagram, Piictu and Viddy, which thus far have been largely untapped by TV networks.

A Project Runway model
A Project Runway model Credit: Barbara Nitke

"We've had great success leveraging Twitter for 'Project Runway' in the past. In the last few months there's been a rise in visual networks, and 'Project Runway' is a perfect fit to take advantage of these platforms," said Evan Silverman, senior VP-digital media at A&E Networks, parent of Lifetime.

The "Make it Work" campaign, which launches today in conjunction with the announcement of the Season 10 competing designers, will utilize these social-media platforms to share images and videos that inspire fans to showcase their own fashion choices and encourage amateur designers to promote their styles.

Lifetime will post photos on Instagram of existing work from this season's designers under the handle @OfficialProjectRunway; it will use its "Fashion Time " board on Pinterest to post and repin photos; on Piictu is will create picture streams by posting photos of fabrics, accessories, colors and patterns under the handle @ProjectRunway and challenge followers to show off their own fashion sense; and Viddy will give fans access to an introduction from each designer and how they will "make it work." New videos will be made available throughout the season and viewers will have an opportunity to post their own Viddy responses. The "Make it Work" hashtag will be used across all of these platforms to unite the content.

This will be the first time a TV show is integrating with Viddy, the social-media site that started last year to turn videos into 15-second mini movies that are easy to upload to platforms like Facebook. "Viddy can capture behind-the-scenes content and quick Q&As in a practically real-time feed that fans can engage with and can be shared on other social-media platforms," said Brett O'Brien, CEO of Viddy.

This is also a first for Piictu, which turns pictures into conversations and games by creating a picture stream.

Several networks like Bravo, The Weather Channel and Food Network have begun dabbling with Pinterest, and CBS's "NCIS: Los Angeles" used Instagram this spring for a contest that put one user's photo in the finale of the drama. But no network has made either platform a focal point of their marketing.

That predominantly has to do with reach. Lifetime's "Fashion Time " board on Pinterest has just 221 followers, while the OfficialProjectRunway page on Instagram has 638 followers. In comparison, "Project Runway" has 116,500 followers on Twitter and 1.4 million fans on Facebook.

But the "Project Runway" campaign seems to be less about reach than giving its core audience a new way to engage that is organic to the show's roots in fashion.

"The visual capabilities of these platforms can showcase the personality of the brand in a different way and are good vehicles for crowdsourcing," A&E's Mr. Silverman said. "Of course, Twitter and Facebook are still valuable, but these social-media platforms encourage different behavior from users."

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