ABC.com Unveils Integrated Promo

ABC.com and ABC TV, both units of The Walt Disney Co., on Wednesday will launch an integrated promotional campaign in which viewers of Two Guys and a Girl will be directed to ABC.com to pick one of four endings of the show’s season finale.

At the end of the May 9 telecast, an on-air promo will direct viewers to cast their votes at www.ABC.com. On May 16, two back-to-back episodes of Two Guys will air, with reminder spots in the first show urging viewers to log on and vote for the ending of their choice.

“We’ll report the results to the broadcast operations team, and they’ll put in the ending chosen by the viewers” in the second episode, said Don Wilcox, director of prime time for Burbank, Calif.-based ABC.com. The viewers’ decision will continue to impact the series next year because the finale determines which Two Guys character gets pregnant, Wilcox said.

The contest is not unique: NBC did a similar promotion with Just Shoot Me and ABC.com has also run similar promotions, though those ABC.com promotions did not use the results in the shows.

ABC.com does not see the contest as an interim step to interactive TV, because “if you watch Who Wants to be a Millionaire you can participate in a two-screen telecast with a PC and a TV in the same room. We’re already doing interactive TV within the Walt Disney Group,” according to an ABC.com spokesman.

The goal of the promotion for ABC.com is to drive traffic to the Web site and create and put into effect an effective marketing platform for advertisers such as MCI.

There will also be promotions for the contest on the ABC.com site, Wilcox said, with features such as an interactive game and personality profiles of Two Guys cast members.

Users can also register to enter a sweepstakes involving a trip for two to Los Angeles for three days and two nights and a walk-on role in the show, Wilcox said. After the finale airs on May 16, the three other outcomes will be posted in streaming video on ABC.com.

“MCI has exclusive sponsorship of the entire contest area on the site. There’s a value to the advertiser because we have interactive features that keep the users there interacting with the brand for a long time,” said Wilcox, who declined to disclose financial figures.

Wilcox said the personality profile feature, which “deepens viewers’ knowledge of the characters,” is an example of how a Web site can extend a brand’s message. “A lot of people think it’s competition and we’re not about that, we’re about extending the experience in a way that enhances it, not cannibalizes it.”

ABC.com designed the campaign internally, including the voting plan and other elements, Wilcox said.