Global TV puts new series in the hands of viewers

The channel is passing out phones and inviting Canadians to use them to take pictures for its latest show, Touch.

Some think of TV as an escape from real life. But what Global TV is hoping viewers will do during the week prior to the launch of its latest drama Touch, (premiering March 22 at 9 p.m.) goes against that notion, with the channel inviting Canadians in on a game of “phone-skipping.”

The term was coined in the pilot episode of the show, which follows the lives of a psychic mute boy and his father (Kiefer Sutherland) as they learn how to connect and communicate with one another. A subplot in the first episode involves a man losing his cell phone at an airport, with it then being found by people and carried from city to city across the world – or as termed in the show, “phone-skipping.”

Global decided to create a bit of a game out of the storyline, where the Shaw Media-owned channel will distribute 175 phones with instructions on how to play in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary during the week of March 12.

The temporary owners of the phones are encouraged to take a picture of something that touched their life that day and then text the captured person, object or whatever that inspiration may be, to a preset number. Next, they are asked to pass the phone along to a friend, family member or even a stranger with the same instructions. For each image sent, 10 cents will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Canada foundation.

At first, the mobile devices will be handed out to Global advertisers, sponsors, partners, as well as Shaw Media and Shaw corporate staff to pass along, with ambassadors later handing out phones to the general public in various locations, Jason Keown, senior director of marketing, Global tells MiC.

The phones will be pre-loaded with images, clips and behind-the scene footage of the show. And they’ll be GPS-tracked as well (just like in the show) with Keown adding that it is all part of the experiment to see where the phones end up.

The whole experience is linked to the show, he says, adding that while the effort may be low-tech in its execution, he believes that it will get people talking because it’s something that’s never really been done before.

“The show is about helping people, it’s about being a part of something bigger than yourself,” he says. “By doing it this way, we can not only bring some awareness to the show, but go beyond that and allow people to actually experience that themselves.”

For those who aren’t able to get their hands on a phone, there is the option to upload their own images and stories on where they can also browse through the already posted pictures.

In addition, Global has launched a campaign using more traditional platforms. Shaw Media’s in-house team has created and planned placement of digital and static billboards in the cities, as well as radio dominations on the day of the premiere during peak times. There will also be ads in daily newspapers and magazines and a YouTube takeover which will provide viewers with clips from the show, says Keown.

The show is already looking promising, he adds, with over 1.8 million viewers watching the sneak preview of the pilot episode on January 25, according to BBM Canada numbers provided by Global.