Starz Launches 'Spartacus' Facebook App

Liam McIntyre Spartacus Vengeance - P 2011

Liam McIntyre Spartacus Vengeance - P 2011

The experience is designed to immerse existing and potential new fans ahead of the January launch of "Spartacus: Vengeance."

NEW YORK -- Starz is launching a Facebook app, or "experience," today that it hopes will create buzz for the new season of Spartacus.

The Facebook app, entitled Take Up Arms, is designed as a three-month campaign on the social network to connect with the show's global fan base, and activate potential new viewers, ahead of the January launch of Spartacus: Vengeance.

The experience, developed by Starz Entertainment with outside developer/agency And Company, combines popular Facebook app features -- by allowing people to mash up video and customize their profiles -- and Facebook functionalities, such as the share and invite functions. It will feature four phases that will include various activities.

Starz said it wasn't aware of any other networks having done comparable initiatives before. The hope is to get more consumer engagement and complement TV and outdoor advertising buys and other ways of building awareness and interest in the new season of Spartacus.

"For us, it's the most comprehensive Facebook app built outside of the games we have done," Kelly Bumann, senior vp, consumer marketing, Starz Entertainment told The Hollywood Reporter. "We want to immerse consumers into the fun of Spartacus, whose page has close to 2 million fans. The goal is to feed the community of people who are already big fans -- and hopefully bring in new fans to the show."

At the start of the year, Starz launched its first Facebook social media game, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, tied to the premium TV franchise, making it one of the first major TV properties to get a social game.

Bumann emphasized that the activities in the Take Up Arms experience were designed not for gamers, but any Facebook user to appeal to a broader audience. "It is meant to be fun and engaging like a game and like the show, but more mass appeal," she said.

Throughout the experience, fans will be rewarded with various prizes, such as DVD sets, and become eligible for the grand prize, a trip to New Zealand and the show's set.

A teaser for the Facebook experience on Thursday said: "Prepare for battle. A rebellion begins." It also said: "The uprising begins online. Return to this place of battle on Dec. 9, to form allegiances and take up arms against Rebel or Roman."

To get started, people must "like" the Facebook page for Take Up Arms. From there, Starz's goal is to bring people back regularly thanks to four phases.

In phase one, users must pick a leader -- either on the rebels or Romans side. Like on a sports board, rankings will change dynamically. Then they can recruit friends and upload pictures and place them on a character's body and post the result on Facebook walls. Users earn points for each activity.

Phase two allows fans to do a video mash-up -- with content from past and new seasons -- that they can share. Users can then vote for their favorite videos.

In phase three, users can add customized Spartacus photos to their Facebook page.

Phase four, set to launch in mid-January, will be built around Spartacus trivia. A range of promotional videos and trailers will then be posted on the Take Up Arms wall. People who answer questions about them correctly will receive points.

Could other Starz shows get similar treatment? Bumann said it depends on each show and what fits their premise and theme.

"The goal with this app is to do something unique and something living and breathing," she said.

Twitter: @georgszalai