ABC Family officially became Freeform TV on January 12, 2016. To celebrate the new rebranding, they had the Freeform Social DNA project, a virtual event merging Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine starting at 11am EST until the premieres of “Pretty Little Liars” and “Shadowhunters” at 8/7c & 9/8c respectively. Cast members from “Pretty Little Liars” and “Shadowhunters” interacted with fans via twitter and social media. And of course, Eclipse Magazine was here to join in the fun and chat with some of the stars!
ABC family is no stranger to change. Since it’s 1977 launch by televangelist Pat Robertson as an extension of his Christian ministry, the network has gone through several name changes, from The Family Channel by 1990 to the Fox Family Channel when it was sold to Fox Kids Worldwide, Inc. , to the ABC Family Channel when Disney bought the network in 2001. In October 2015, ABC Family announced its’ renaming to Freeform, effective on January 12, 2016.
Why the change? The network is keeping up with the millennial viewers as they grow up. According to the network, young people often ask themselves as they’re going from high school to their thirties – “Who am I becoming?” Thus, the term Becomers was born. With Freeform, the network is speaking to Becomers, a network coined term describing the life stage from 14-34. They are in high school, college, and the decade that follows. It’s a time of firsts in their lives.
With this in mind and the overwhelming use of social media amongst this age group, it only made sense that rebranding of ABC Family to Freeform should take place as a virtual event that can be shared worldwide with real time interaction.
Instagram started off this virtual celebration at 7 am PST with stars from Freeform TV’s newest show “Shadowhunters” . Throughout the day, stars from “Shadowhunters” as well as Pretty Little Liars would tweet out, use a vine booth, use snapchat and answer questions on Facebook. At 5pm PST, “Pretty Little Liars” cast live tweeted the premiere, followed by “Shadowhunters” cast live tweets of their premiere at 6pm.
Fans were not only given the opportunity to interact with their favorite stars, but by using the hashtag #FreeformLaunch, they received a reply tweet with a unique piece of 3D digital art based on an analysis of their Twitter feed and were entered into a sweepstakes to win one of 5000 prizes.
In addition to 3D bracelets, Freeform fans could tweet out requests for a real time based mural that was recorded with a live camera. From a blank canvas in the morning, the tweets resulted in a modern day mural jumping with color and life.
Of course, every event must have food. After all, one must eat cake, or pancake in this case. Pancake artist Daniel Drake aka Dr. Dan the Pancake Man flew in from St. Louis with his manager Hank Gustafson carrying their own pancake mix and gels. Dr. Dan showed everyone that with an iPhone picture, a good pancake batter, icing gels, and unique talent, a flat yellow pancake can be fashioned into a work of art. Plates of cast members of “Pretty Little Lairs” and “Shadowhunters” were framed by plates. They were so beautiful you almost didn’t want to eat them!
Of course, I couldn’t just leave this lovely party without chatting with some of the stars at the party. I had the opportunity to chat with Katherine McNamara who plays Clary Fray on “Shadowhunters”. She talked about the positive impact of ABC Family rebranding to Freeform, discussed the plot of the show being about Clary Fray’s quest to find her mother with the help of Shadowhunters and friends, and the great opportunity of playing a strong female character on television. “Shadowhunters” Alberto Rosende and Dominic Sherwood who play Simon Lewis and Jace Wayland respectively also joined me to talk about their characters, how the TV series closely follows the books, and how The Mortal Instruments fans won’t be disappointed.
It was truly a virtual party. Using all the major social media outlets – twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine – it truly reaches out to this generation of tech savvy tv viewers. Twenty years ago, I don’t think anyone would have imagined that this virtual universe, or this type of “global party” could have ever existed. But social media is not our future. It’s our now, and it’s here to stay.
Make sure to tune in to “Pretty Little Liars” on Tues., 8/7c and “Shadowhunters” on Tues 9/8c on Freeform!
Official web site: http://freeform.go.com/
Freeform Twitter: @FreeformTV
Shadowhunters Twitter: @ShadowhuntersTV
Pretty Little Liars Twitter: @PLLTVSeries
Courtesy of FreeformTV