In Freeform’s latest original series, The Bold Type, three women in their early 20s — Kat (Aisha Dee), Jane (Katie Stevens) and Sutton (Meghann Farhy) — work at one of the country’s top women’s magazine, Scarlet, which is run by powerhouse editor Jacqueline (Melora Hardin).
The show is based on iconic magazine Cosmopolitan and its longtime editor, Joanna Coles, who is now chief content officer at Hearst Magazines. On its face, it’s a show — like Sex and the City or Girls before it — about female friendship and how this latest TV threesome navigates their careers and relationships. But it’s also about modern feminism and female empowerment — subjects that resonate with Freeform’s mostly millennial audience, to which it refers as “becomers.”
“The modern cultural movement around feminism that’s happening right now is squarely in the bulls-eye of what our audience is talking about and living right now,” says Tricia Melton, Freeform’s senior vice president of marketing, creative and brand. “Feminism is completely different for this group. When I was launching Oxygen 15 years ago, we battled with this idea of strident feminism. But this group feels that they are equal and should be equal on every level. It’s a simple expectation that they have. They just don’t get it that things aren’t equal and fair across gender.”
Freeform’s audience are also social natives who keep the brand’s shows high on the social rankings. Pretty Little Liars, which just closed out its seventh and final season, was ranked TV’s most social series throughout much of its run, while Shadowhunters, which just debuted the second half of its second season, is TV’s third most social show, says Melton.
“Social media is where our audience lives and breathes and we feed that beast,” says Melton. “Our audience doesn’t want to just watch a show — they want to be part of the experience. They want to take a show that they are immersed in and turn it into their own creative and cultural memes.”
Armed with that knowledge, Freeform commissioned Instagram artist Samantha Rotenburg, who goes by Violet Claire on the platform, to do two murals. One, located in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, says “I’m not a boss bitch, I’m a boss, bitch.” The other, located in Venice, Calif., says “Women get shit done.”
The murals were barely mounted before people started posting them on Instagram and across social media.
“They have just exploded in terms of being Instagram-worthy,” says Melton.
In fact, Melton says, the Williamsburg installation wasn’t even all the way up before a friend of hers sent her a picture of it, with a note that “I saw this and thought of you.”
Claire also has done several character portraits and other drawings specifically for Instagram @theboldtypetv, including the below:
Being set at a Manhattan women’s magazine also gives Freeform a lot to play with in terms of fashion, style and beauty.
Overall, “there’s just a tremendous amount of social content that we have created that leans into the fashion angle,” says Melton. “It’s a key way to position the uniqueness of this show.”
Freeform is partnering with fashion website gilt.com on a pop-up store off of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. Shoppers and would-be fans can wander through a real-life version of the show’s “fashion closet,” as well as shop and talk to stylists through Thursday, July 13.
The website itself also will feature fashion from The Bold Type, offering special promotions and giveaways.
It’s all about meeting Freeform’s audience where they live, and that’s in the world and on the move.
“I don’t think of social media just as a marketing function,” says Melton. “I think of it as how are we serving the fan base and creating different types of content for them and with them.”
The Bold Type premieres Tuesday, July 11 at 9/8 c on Freeform.
Listen to PromaxBDA Editorial Director Paige Albiniak talk with Tricia Melton (and friend of PromaxBDA) about how the network is tapping into its strong social media presence to launch the show and how The Bold Type’s brand of feminism dovetails perfectly with Freeform’s audience own experience in today’s episode of The Daily Brief Podcast.
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