CNN and Facebook Aim to ‘Connect Generations’ Through ‘THE SIXTIES’

By Adam Flomenbaum 

cnn-logo_304x200The third episode of CNN’s 10-part series ‘THE SIXTIES,’ which explore the events and people that made the 1960s so iconic, premieres tonight at 9pm EST. Each week, the series focuses on a different angle –  “Sex, Drugs, and Rock N’ Roll” and “The War in Vietnam” among them – but tonight’s episode will explore perhaps the most memorable moment of one of history’s most memorable decades: ‘The Assassination of President Kennedy.’

In its conception, CNN wanted the series to appeal to more than just Baby Boomers. For this reason, the network partnered with Facebook to make the series interactive and engaging, and more, to attract Millennials.

“Part of the appeal of this partnership for us and for Facebook was also a really unique chance to connect generations,” Andrew Morse, SVP for Editorial, CNN/U.S., tells Lost Remote. “The boomers who lived through the 60s and the Millennials, whose world was shaped by the events of that decade… Since Facebook has millions of daily users that engage over TV programming, we thought if we could develop an even richer content experience for social users, we could reach even more potential viewers with this unique series.”

The partnership includes weekly live Q&A chats with historic figures and the series producers during each episode, video highlights of the period, and exclusive video produced by CNN Digital Studios. Each week, CNN has been premiering one original video on Facebook related to the series content, as well as other SIXTIES-related videos.

Alexandra Zapruder, whose grandfather inadvertently filmed the assassination of President Kennedy, will be participating in tonight’s Q&A chat on Facebook during the premiere. It is opportunities like these, Morse says, that “add rich dimension and immediate relevancy to our series for a great complement to the television experience for our viewers.”

We asked Allison Gollust, CMO, CNN Worldwide, about the irony of spotlighting the 1960’s with such a social media emphasis, but Gollust thinks that it’s actually a great fit. “Social media, particularly Facebook with its great potential for interactive connectivity via video, photos, and sound is an ideal complement for families and friends to share memories – and to create new experiences by watching this series together,” Gollust says. “It’s natural that in modern times, people would revisit these events using all of our modern media – that’s why we’ve created this multidimensional, 2-screen, interactive opportunity via Facebook.”

So far, the numbers support CNN’s strategy to reach a multigenerational audience. Just under a third of 992,000 viewers who tuned in to last week’s Cold War episode, ‘The World on the Brink,’ were adults aged 25 to 54.

It will be interesting to see how the trends evolve over the rest of the series, which concludes on August 7, but Facebook is the perfect second screen partner for this initiative, and the strong social component should help CNN build buzz for the series as the summer continues.