“Real Husbands of Hollywood” Network: BET
Date: February 19, 2013
Key to Success: Fake it ‘til you make it
“Real Husbands of Hollywood,” billed as “the fakest reality show on television,” began as a sketch for the 2011 BET Awards in which rappers and actors repeatedly threw drinks at host Kevin Hart. After its overwhelming fan response, BET revived the sketch for the 2012 Awards, which was also met with mega-success on social media. Now BET is building an empire off of this parody-turned-very-real series’ momentum (of more than 4 million viewers on premiere night).
The series’ debut this January piggybacked on an energized social media campaign propelled by an all-star cast of top talent engaging their already active following. It only helped that the stars of the series are stars outside the series as well, each with dedicated fan bases and devotees – including Nick Cannon, R&B singer Robin Thicke, actor and all-around heartthrob Boris Kodjoe, and Hart himself. With that momentum behind it, BET created a hit show that has consistently leveraged the talent to engage the audience.
“It’s a massively coordinated effort,” said Vicky Free, EVP and CMO at BET. “We have the hottest comedian in the country right now with Kevin Hart, and he has a huge social media footprint. So does Robin Thicke and Boris Kodjoe. So we’ve been sure to engage the talent.”
Although they had a solid fan foundation with their cast, BET didn’t stop there. “The messaging was really letting the show sell itself,” Free said. “The innovation came more in our media strategy and planning. We leveraged social TV across a variety of social media outlets to build momentum, not only leading up to the premiere, but during the actual airing of the shows to keep that feedback going.”
The network has also built unique social media tools of its own. On the show’s site, Twitter maps connected viewers around the country to keep conversations about the show lively and current, and GIFs kept the best moments fresh even after the current episode had ended. The show’s abundance of quotable lines aren’t bad social media fodder either.