Fallon Touts NBC Series

NEW YORK Fallon employs viral video and social networking to promote the Oct. 3 premiere of NBC’s Friday Night Lights, the network’s new drama based on Peter Berg’s 2004 movie of the same name.

The online portion of the push is based at Bebo.com, where teens and young adults can contribute their own content around the show’s themes: high school, football, teamwork and community.

Fallon favors the online platform because of its heavy user traffic among the target student demographic. Bebo’s user protections and the fact that it caters to high-school-age users made it a better choice for promoting the show than MySpace or Friendster, said Lisa Seward, Fallon media director for North America.

At microsite FridayNightLights.bebo.com, students are encouraged to upload photos, videos and text reflecting their own football stories. Online contributors are eligible to win $5,000 scholarships for college.

“At this time of year, football is central to young people’s social and private lives,” said Seward.

Noting that teens frequently express their “love of their football team” online, she said, “we’re giving them the tools to do it, the place to do it and the incentive in the form of scholarships.”

In addition to user-generated content, the microsite features Friday Night Lights footage. Promotional content for upcoming episodes will be posted at linked site NBC.com.

Leveraging the Web is a key piece of Fallon’s strategy to help build a community of loyal Friday Night Lights viewers.

The online portion of the campaign makes up about 10 percent of the effort’s overall high-seven-figure price tag.

Offline promotions aim to drive traffic to the microsite via TV, radio, print and bus signage.

NBC is also sending “School Spirit” kits to 1,000 high schools in its top 10 markets. The kits, which were created in collaboration with Alloy Media + Marketing, contain Friday Night Lights-branded paraphernalia ranging from pom-poms and mini-footballs to disposable cameras and DVDs of the pilot.

Overall, the effort “is not a media plan; it’s largely a creative idea,” Seward said. “We’re bringing entire communication strategies and communications ideas; we’re not bringing a flow chart. You have to start with the assumption that the solution is to connect with people in some way. Media people are best equipped to do that, and the best media people can invent ideas. Media is the new creative.”

After winning the NBC Universal TV account last September, Minneapolis-based Fallon took on media planning chores in January. (It also handles magazine, newspaper, online and out-of-home buying tasks, with incumbent Horizon Media retaining broadcast buying responsibilities.)

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Bebo.com was a unit of Montser.