This week's mustachioed host, Matt Hammerberg, takes the stage with his co-host Hailey to much fanfare. Yet the studio is silent before the contestants arrive at the well-lit podiums. Where's the applause, the hoots and hollers? It's elsewhere, behind what are likely thousands of computer screens across the nation. Wait a second--where are the contestants? They're peering in through their laptops and desktops, too.
This is Get Away With It, a week-long game show that doubles as a crazy experiment and a golden advertising opportunity for JetBlue, the airline agency responsible. But if you ask us, this is also the future of game shows. Thanks to a collaboration with digital marketing firm Mullen, JetBlue could make good on its vision for what game shows could be while upping recognition for its vacation program, Getaways.
The rules of Get Away With it (get it?) are simple, but the concept is brand new. Through the power of Skype, would-be contestants phone--or rather, video--in to a central hub where they're randomly selected to virtually participate in a trivia game of elimination. While hopeful contestants hang out in a green room, those in the hot seat are digitally beamed into HD screens that rest atop three podiums.
Admittedly, everything save for the TVs and web video contestants looks ripped right from the golden years of Family Feud or The $10,000 Pyramid. "There are people doing game shows out there. Why do what everybody else is doing," Mullen VP and Creative Director Cliff Leicht rhetorically asks. "Let's do something different to twist and turn it on its head, and bring a little bit of kitsch factor to it. I like the fact that there's a mash-up of this old school nature and technology. That's something that nobody is really doing."
Players have seven seconds to correctly answer trivia themed around JetBlue's various Getaways destinations. (This is a brand recognition play first and foremost, though a ground-breaking one at that.) Answer correctly, and you score 100 points. Answer incorrectly, and you're out as quickly as you were beamed in. The player with the most points at the end of the 15-to-20-minute show wins a vacation courtesy of JetBlue.
"It gives people the opportunity to play from their home, and I think people are really responding to that," Leicht says. "Not many people are actually able to play on a live game show and win grand prizes like this. That gives everybody out there an opportunity to do that."
This show airs five times a day, every day, from June 18 through 22. It's a sight to behold: a game show with potentially the largest live audience ever without anyone in the studio but Mark, his co-host and the crew. Social game shows are popular on Facebook and mobile devices, but few actually occur in real time. Instead, they bring in what your friends have done before you and see whether you stack up.
To the dissenters, the doubters: Sure, "Phone a Friend" pioneered digital participation, and texting or tweeting to cast your vote made social spectating a reality. But Get Away With It goes full bore on both. "From our perspective, we really see this as an evolution of game shows," JetBlue Advertising Manager Elizabeth Eelman says. "The way that we've incorporated the social sharing functionality, that incorporation of social in the game show really breaks down the barrier of entry to participate."
While JetBlue is simply focused on making it through this week, it wouldn't be surprising to see future game shows take a bite from Get Away With It. After June 22, the game will be available in a light version with some social features. Honestly, that won't do it justice. With six episodes left in the cooker--as of this writing--there's still time to see the future of game shows unfold before your very eyes.
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