Starz Entertainment is weaving Facebook fans into the twisted story line of Boss, in a vaguely unsettling video stunt ahead of the political drama's Season 2 premiere, set for Aug. 17.
When users visit PriceforPower.com and allow the site to access their Facebook profiles, they're rewarded with a two-minute clip that features them as a gubernatorial candidate -- with a bunch of enemies. The video incorporates not only their names (for example, on campaign placards) but also their personal photos and friends.
"Do you realize how easy it would be to have you completely wiped off the map?" intones Boss's Mayor Tom Kane, played by Kelsey Grammer. "Your friends? Your family?" he adds, as you watch your Facebook page start erasing friends and reverting your relationship status to "It's complicated."
"We want people to feel it's a little bit creepy," Starz senior vice president of digital marketing Kelly Bumann said. "We wanted a way to pull people into this world and drive buzz for this show, but still make it relevant whether you're a fan of the show or not."
The Price for Power project took about three months from approval to launch. The site was developed and is hosted by digital agency BLT.
As a percentage of Starz's total promotional budget for Boss, the Price for Power website was in "the 1% range," Bumann said. "It's a smart, guerilla way to do something that looks more premium than other things we've seen," she said.
After watching their lives dismantled, visitors can either watch the video again, share it with friends -- or just forget the whole thing ever happened. On repeat visits, users are shown different pictures or messages for a slightly different experience.
The "Price for Power" site takes advantage of Facebook Connect, a set of application programming interfaces that allow third-party websites to log into the social site -- if a user grants permission -- as well as access information in to a user's profile or update it.
Other sites that have used Facebook Connect to create personalized experiences include Take This Lollipop, in which a deranged-looking and agitated dude appears to troll through your profile before getting in his car with a map to your town. A gentler execution is Intel's Museum of Me, designed to create a "visual archive of your social life."
Boss stars Grammer as Mayor Kane of Chicago, a role for which he won a Golden Globe award for best actor in a drama series. In the show, Kane is diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease that, increasingly in Season 2, causes him to hallucinate and threatens his life.