The Rocky Horror Picture Show Will Feature Snapchat’s First Live TV Activations

Snapcodes will unlock new filters during Fox's telecast

Headshot of Jason Lynch

Even if viewers don't throw rice or shout at the screen tonight during Fox's remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, they'll have a new way to participate—via Snapchat.

For the first time ever on TV, Fox and Snapchat have created a trio of Snapcode activations that will go live during the telecast. Fox will air Snapcodes three times in bumpers between the show and the ads. Viewers can snap them to unlock exclusive filters and share with friends.

It's one of several activations from Fox and Snapchat surrounding the remake of the 1975 cult classic, which is subtitled Let's Do the Time Warp Again. As it researched the fans who continue to flock to midnight screenings of the original film and the response to the first trailer in May, Fox noted heavy millennial engagement, which it also attributes to its millennial-friendly stars, Ryan McCartan and Victoria Justice, who play Brad Majors and Janet Weiss. Laverne Cox stars as Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

"It's really about celebrating the iconic classic with custom fan engagement experiences, and both an homage and a love letter to a cult classic on a very current platform," said Angela Courtin, Fox Broadcasting evp and CMO. "It was a great audience. It was obviously a great platform to reach them, and the creativity allowed us to lean in what we love—fan participation."

Fox ran Snap ads on Oct. 11 celebrating Coming Out Day. Then on Tuesday, the network launched a custom sponsored lens, which let users dress up as Frank-N-Furter, complete with makeup and the film's iconic lips.

Cox and Justice also held weekly Snapchat activations and takeovers heading up to the premiere.

Snapcode is a new Snapchat offering that began rolling out last month, offering brands a new way to disseminate filters. Any brand that buys a national filter also can get a Snapcode that unlocks that filter. Tonight's Rocky Horror telecast will be the first time Snapcodes have been utilized during a TV program.

The Snapchat activations "go back to how fans experience the original classic," said Courtin. "You would go to the theater, and you'd throw the rice. You'd toss the toilet paper, you'd [do the] call and response. What better way to do that than in the show, being able to have fans unlocking ways to participate digitally and socially by unlocking a filter, being able to take a photograph and share that? That is what participation looks like in today's social language."

Networks have increasingly been partnering with Snapchat as a way to expand their reach and engagement with Snapchat's 150 million users. The platform reaches 41 percent on average of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. each day, according to Nielsen.

Fox's social media-centric marketing campaign for Rocky Horror also included a month of "midnight streamings," which its stars teased on various social platforms, of new footage and clips on Fox Now and Hulu every Thursday.

Fox is already planning on using Snapcodes on TV again.

"We will look at the adoption on this, but I think that we should absolutely be exploring this for our shows," said Courtin, who suggested that Snapcodes could be used to unlock content during the second half of Empire's season, as well as Fox's upcoming 24 reboot, 24: Legacy, which launches after the Super Bowl.

"With success, I can see this being a part of our arsenal," Courtin said.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.