YTV looks to build buzz ahead of Some Assembly Required debut

The new live-action youth series from Thunderbird Films looks to engage fans online and off ahead of its just-announced January premiere.
Some Assembly Required

Future Mark Zuckerbergs may find inspiration online and off in YTV’s newest live action comedy, Some Assembly Required.

Announced this week, the new series from Thunderbird Films will premiere on Monday Jan. 6 at 6:30, debuting alongside an innovative video mash-up tool with clips extracted from the series, and pre-promoted with an online game.

Created by Dan Signer (A.N.T. Farm, Mr. Young) and Howard Nemetz (Mr. Young, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody),  Some Assembly Required was filmed in Burnaby, B.C. in front of a live audience. The series follows a group of kids who run a toy company, starring actor Kolton Stewart (I Declare War, The Next Step) as the company’s 14-year-old president.

The series’ digital strategy starts well before the show, with the goal of generating buzz for the premiere, said Alex Raffé, head of production at Vancouver-based Thunderbird.

Beginning Dec. 16, prospective fans can go online and play a 20-level web game that was developed with Toronto’s Relish Interactive. After the series begins its 26-episode run, the game will be supplemented by a new app and 20 added levels of game-play.

“One of the things YTV had asked for some form of digital element that was a pre-launch awareness driver,” Raffé told Playback. “It’s very hard to make people aware of a show that they don’t know anything about yet. So we came up with this game and we’re going to release 20 levels on mobile and in mid-January, YTV’s going to help us launch it on their Game Drop show and we’re going to use a lot of social media behind it.”

Once the show is underway, some of the show’s video clips will be made available for viewers to create and assemble their own mash-up videos via a tool created by Toronto’s Secret Location.

“YTV was keen on something that had a video element,” explained Raffé, whose shingle previously created the success stories Mr. Young and A.N.T. Farm. “One of Some Assembly Required‘s creators,  Dan Signer, came up with something that he had seen on both Mr. Young and A.N.T. Farm - kids would make mash-up videos from where they would basically chop episodes that they downloaded from God-knows-where, to make up the stories they wanted to see, and then they’d send them into social media.

“We figured, if they kids are going to do it anyway, let’s make it fun for them and give them some tools and visual effects like slo-mo and sound effects, and we’ll upload huge cunks of chopped-up footage for them to play with,” she adds.

To finance the strategy, Raffé said Corus supplied “a huge chunk of CMF money, a more-than-decent license fee and some fairly substantive hosting and marketing and tech integration money” that enabled a budget of $250,000. The Bell Media Fund also kicked in some financing.

Jocelyn Hamilton, VP of programming and original production, Corus Kids, said YTV was attracted to the concept of Some Assembly Required because  it “was something we thought most kids and families would find aspirational and fun.  The idea that an unlikely group of teens could run a toy company and have the opportunity to create toys that kids would want to play with is an exciting and relatable fantasy for most kids (and parents). The funny antics of our misfit team is ultimately what will draw our audience in.”

“As for the timeslot, Mondays are currently our premiere nights for most of our sitcoms and the holiday season is a great opportunity to promote our new original programming premiering in January, as most kids and families are home enjoying time together. With the success of Sam & Cat, Haunted Hathaways and the Thundermans, Some Assembly Required will now round out our sitcom lineup.”