Keeping Mr. Bean Social: How to Engage New Audiences With a Heritage Brand



What’s the secret ingredients in keeping a heritage brand like Mr. Bean social in a digital age? Production companies Endemol Shine Group and Tiger Aspect Productions have the answers.

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Everyone knows Mr. Bean. Ever since it was first broadcasted in 1990, this British sitcom has been a global sensation, winning over the hearts of audiences in 195 territories with nearly 30 years in continual distribution.

But more importantly, this TV legend continues to live on today. You might be surprised but Mr. Bean is the biggest TV brand on Facebook globally with more than 80 million fans. In fact, he has a bigger following than Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Harry Potter, Manchester United, Katy Perry… you name it. In 2017, Mr. Bean amassed more than 4.5 billion video views on YouTube, which adds up to a total watch time of 38 thousand years.

The masterminds behind these flying colors are Endemol Shine Group and Tiger Aspect Productions. As the world’s largest independent production company in the world, Endemol Shine Group has been in charge of the distribution of the Mr. Bean series since 2009. It has operations in 23 different countries and has produced 800 different shows around the world. Its partner, Tiger Aspect Productions, is the producer of the TV series, which also created Mr. Bean’s animated series in 2002.

Now, what’s the key to keeping a heritage brand like Mr. Bean social? Andrew Crofoot, Head of Digital Distribution & Partnerships at Endemol Shine Group, along with Tom Beattie, Head of Animation and Childrens at Tiger Aspect Productions, gave the audience their answers at Social Media Week London 2018.

Engaging in brand partnerships

One of the things that have benefited Mr. Bean on social is partnerships. Among them is one with Adobe and Facebook.

In 2017, Endemol partnered with Adobe and Facebook to livestream the animated Mr. Bean performing charades as viewers played along. It’s a partnership made possible by Adobe’s then newly launched Character Animator software and Facebook Live, and the result turned out to be a huge success for all three companies.

“We reached around 6 million fans on Facebook and created more than 352,000 engagement,” said Crofoot. “It was a meaningful interaction vital to the long-term growth of the brand.”

Making the most out of consumer products

Conceived in a pre-digital world, heritage brands are often confronted with the challenge of staying relevant in the era of social media. And for a sitcom that was created in the 90s, where will new ideas for social be coming from? According to Crofoot, consumers will have the answer.

“Over the course of the past ten years, people have uploaded a lot of Mr. Ben content, and we look at that as a benefit for us,” said Crofoot.

Whatever’s been produced by Mr. Bean’s very own fans with new behaviors and mindset has helped Crofoot’s social team with brainstorming for new ideas and doing things in new ways.

Continuing to feed social media audience

Endemol customizes content of Mr. Bean for each social media platform — just basic editing while leaving the original videos largely untouched to retain Mr. Bean’s charm. For example, for Facebook, they put together compilation clips into a three-minute video to meet Facebook’s publishing guidelines, and made the video square to suit people’s mobile viewing habits; For Instagram, they took the Facebook video and cut it down to one minute to meet Instagram’s video length limit; And for IGTV, they re-edited the Facebook video and made it vertical, but kept the time length to suit a platform designed for longer videos.

Apart from videos, Tiger Aspect Productions also worked with Endemol to create gifs for social, so there will always be new content input for social users from Mr. Bean.

“We reckon that if we keep the fans happy, things like traffic and revenue, directly as a result of these actions, will follow,” said Crofoot.

Though, ultimately, according to Crofoot, Mr. Bean himself should take credit for the series continuous success.

“The audience habit has changed. In this day and age, the fact that this evergreen creation still continue to live on in new and interesting ways, really is a reflection of the amazing IPs that we have to work with,” said Crofoot.

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