'Entourage' taps into social network for series premiere

NEW YORK: Social networking is a central component of a promotional campaign for the new season of HBO's Entourage, a show about access, cliques, and celebrity that follows the exploits of one rising celebrity and his three best friends from home.

NEW YORK: Social networking is a central component of a promotional campaign for the new season of HBO's Entourage, a show about access, cliques, and celebrity that follows the exploits of one rising celebrity and his three best friends from home.

In promoting the upcoming season, which debuted yesterday, HBO has tapped Deep Focus to handle online communications initiatives, which includes a contest where fans of the show must try to set up their own virtual entourage for a VIP trip to LA.

“The genus of it all is if you want to be the most popular crew in MySpace [and win the contests], you will have to embody” the characteristics of the fictional crew, said Ian Schafer, the founder and chief executive of Deep Focus.

The campaign is not designed merely to provide fans with an ephemeral brush with celebrity, Schafer said, as MySpace’s community tools will help HBO ensure fans are kept up-to-date with all of the show’s developments and contests.

“It’s about keeping audiences involved and engaged over an extended period of time,” Schafer said. MySpace is a “CRM tool. [HBO] can set up bulletins to send to [people] who identify themselves as a friend of Entourage.”

More than 20,000 users have signed up to be Entourage “friends” on MySpace and over 100 have signed up their own “entourage” for the competition.

Deep Focus also set up a viral Web site where users can pretend to interview for a job with the Ari character. Actor Jeremy Piven taped several hours of footage for the intuitive site. Schafer said this was a way to make sure talent could be more available to fans without straining their schedules.

“We were able to have him participate during production of the series,” Schafer said. “We weren’t asking for anything above and beyond the call.”

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