Making TV relevant for the social generation, meet Troika

By Natan Edelsburg 

If you know anything about teenagers and young adults, you know that they get bored very easily. In the age of millions of apps, TV channels and entertainment outlets, it’s extremely hard to to keep “tech savvy, culturally progressive 18-34-year-olds,” glued to a brand built for them like The CW. Troika, a brand consultancy and creative agency has been working with The CW since it’s inception in 2006 to help keep this demo entertained through strategic branding. This TV season they’ve launched a major rebrand for The CW, which they describe as “branding in the cracks,” more specifically, “finding new areas and platforms for the brand to be expressed.” We interviewed Troika Creative Director Reid Thompson about the social TV rebrand.

The WB’s branding and promotions still stick with the former youths that grew up with them (the WB was The CW’s predecessor). Remember, “Oh What A Night?”, The WB’s fall TV promotion from 2000 that literally brought your favorite characters from Buffy, Angel, Felicity, Dawson’s Creek, 7th Heaven and more into the greatest party ever?

The party continues to grow for newer generations (with Vampire Diaries, 90210, Arrow, Gossip Girl, etc.) this time across multiple screen and social platforms. The CW’s social TV strategy has helped the network grip onto one of the most sought out demographics in TV. The network continues to push boundaries in social TV, even launching a live Twitter feed in Entertainment Weekly. Troika has been working with the network since 2006 to mold this brand. Here’s a look at what they’ve launched with the CW this year to bring the “Now” back into TV and how important the second screen and social have become to this “Now.”

Lost Remote: How has Troika been working with the CW? What components of social have you worked on?
Reid Thompson: Troika has been a regular branding partner with The CW since its launch in 2006, when we first worked with Rick Haskins to develop their brand strategy, logo, on-air identity, and launch advertising. Since then, we’ve engaged in Think Tanks on an almost annual basis to push brand innovations; a particularly effective process for progressive-minded clients like The CW.
Social has been integral to The CW brand for some time. For example, we developed their on-air “texts & tweets” bug system in 2009. For the current rebrand, we positioned The CW with the tagline “TV Now,” which speaks to the evolution of television into a truly multi-platform, two-way experience. Social is infused throughout the brand. The strategies and tools come out of our Brand Blueprint process, which literally involves mapping the brand in great detail across all of its possible consumer touchpoints. The goal of blueprinting is to create a highly effective brand ecosystem that aims to meet the behaviors of today’s highly engaged audience.

LR: How have you watched the network evolve? Are younger audiences harder or easier to work with when developing creative work?
Thompson: The CW has always been innovative. At first, it was a brand that connected to its audience through emergent style and cultural relevance. Today, it also connects through behavior – as a social and platform agnostic experience.

Young adult audiences are the most exciting to develop creative around. It’s a moving target that demands an understanding of the behavioral trends driving contemporary culture today.

LR: How do you deal with criticism you see on social platforms about work you’re doing? How do you showcase success to your client?
Thompson: The great thing about social networks is that everyone has an opinion and shares it. While, for us, the most important opinion is that of the client, social feedback helps us see our work from a third-party point of view.

Our typical project is for a major, multi-platform entertainment media brand and includes brand strategy, communication and design. A lot of concerns need to be addressed along the way. While we are in close collaboration with the client throughout the process, it’s always amazing to share in hindsight the linear evolution from strategy to final creative execution.

LR: What are plans for the future? What exciting campaigns have you worked on for fall TV?
Thompson: We are incredibly excited for the future. As a brand consultancy and creative agency specializing in entertainment and sports media, there has never been a better time. TV clients are striving to meet opportunities created through digital platforms, and digital clients are getting into the entertainment business. Our mission is to help these clients evolve their brands in meaningful ways. In addition to The CW, we recently created brands for Canal+ Group’s D8 and D17 in France, and Time Warner Cable’s two new regional sports channels and homes of the Lakers, Galaxy, and Sparks, SportsNet and Spanish-language Deportes.