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Exclusive: STARZ Launches ‘Apothecary Cabinet’ Ahead of ‘Outlander’ Premiere

outlander-first-look-starzSTARZ has a social TV hit on its hands, and the show hasn’t even started yet.

‘Outlander’, which premieres August 9, is based on Diana Gabaldon’s seven-book series that has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. The eighth installment of the ‘Outlander’ series titled ‘Written in My Own Heart’s Blood’ was released two weeks ago.

Ahead of the series premiere and to capitalize on the buzz around the eighth installment of the book, STARZ launched OutlanderCommunity.com, a social destination which aggregates the latest ‘Outlander’ content across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and fan blogs. In an email exchange with Erin Dwyer, Executive Director for Digital Marketing at STARZ, Dwyer told Lost Remote that “OutlanderCommunity.com visitor numbers are outpacing 5 of our other Original programming experiences in lifetime visits and we haven’t aired yet!”

STARZ today is also launching an Apothecary Cabinet on OutlanderCommunity.com, a second screen feature which allows users to explore plants and herbs used during the 1700s when modern medicine wasn’t available.  These remedies will factor heavily into the series and users will be able to find information on 14 different plants that were used to treat everything from warts and corns to heart attacks and infection. Each of the interactive information cards are shareable via social.

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In our email exchange, Dwyer touched on the social strategy for ‘Outlander,’ the high engagement numbers on OutlanderCommunity.com thus far, and how the Apothecary Cabinet will complement the viewing experience.

Lost Remote: OutlanderCommunity.com was built in anticipation of the show, but a lot of the engagement so far has been about the book series. What is your strategy for courting loyal fans of the books, along with new fans who have never read them?

Erin Dwyer: From the beginning of this process our strategy has focused around the fan base, and bringing them along for the ride, as we turned their book into a new STARZ Original Series. We believe fueling and befriending the fans will lead to more spill over into new audiences who start to ask “What is this Outlander Show everyone is talking about?”.  One of the really unique elements to this amazing community is that the fans have been heavily engaged with content about the show from the beginning.  The book is most definitely a pivotal piece for the fans, but they are highly involved and curious with how it will come to life in the Starz series. We have engaged them every step of the way from the casting of Jamie with Sam Heughan to Twitter chats with our Gaelic coach and a video series (How to Speak Outlander) helping fans know the real pronunciation of the words they’ve read so they know how the dialect will sound on the show.

Take for example our Instagram handle, which is entirely built on the strategy of behind the scenes from show production.  We had over 2,000 followers on Instagram in under two hours after we announced it.  We outpaced “The Following” and “True Detective” at the time (October 2013) and are still edging out “True Detective” who has executed a full season and we are still a couple months from premiering.  Our Instagram is at a little over 28,000 followers. These fans want the show content and are anxiously awaiting the visualization of their beloved book series.

LR: What have been some of the most surprising OutlanderCommunity.com engagement numbers so far, and how will you try to build upon this momentum in the lead-up to the series premiere?

Dwyer: In general this is one of the most dedicated, loyal and feverish fan bases to date.  When Sam was cast their tweets voted him “Hottie of the Week” for E! News and they did this two weeks in a row! Our hashtags have trended over 8x on Twitter including during NYCC in October and the January TCA’s.

Regarding OutlanderCommunity.com specifically

- We had Enormous Reach: 7MM+ impressions in less that 24hours with one activation

- The site has High Engagement: Avg Time Spent on OutlanderCommunity.com is over 4minutes per user.

- Ravenous Consumption: OutlanderCommunity.com visitor numbers are outpacing 5 of our other Original programming experiences in lifetime visits and we haven’t aired yet!

As we build to premiere we have a few more experiences and pieces of content to provide our fan base, but we plan to leverage this site throughout the season as well.  It’s a great place to go and see everything being discussed and shared about the show in one place.  It’s bringing in Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and we’ve worked with the fan sites and blogs to aggregate their posts and content as well.  It’s a one-stop shop for all things about Starz’s new original series, Outlander.

As the series progresses we have plans for weekly content and engagement plans that will help spotlight our fantastic fans and also reward them with the content they are looking for.

LR: How will the newly launched Apothecary Cabinet complement the viewing experience? 

Dwyer: The apothecary was developed as a nod to our heroine, Claire.  As a nurse during war and the woman who helps heal Jamie of many wounds, we wanted to elevate the various herbs and remedies that are highlighted in both the book and the show.  The Apothecary imagery was shot on set so we are bringing pieces of the show to the fans in this digital experience.  We wanted to illuminate one of Claire’s characteristics in an exploratory way that allows fans to feel empowered, just as Claire emanates.   The experience was not designed as a second screen or to be solely complementary to viewing, however, if fans and viewers are watching and see characters using various herbs, this can serve as a means to explain what that herb can heal and was used for in the past.

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