For those who don’t live in the UK or haven’t heard of it, Skins is a scripted show that promises a real depiction of Teen lives including the drugs, sex and rock-n-roll. This was a very popular show with Millenials 18-24 in the U.K. and appears to be just as popular here in the States. I’ve been fascinated by the advertisers who are scrambling to remove themselves from the MTV version of Skins due to the lack of ‘brand fit’ and backlash from Parent groups.

These Parent groups are calling the advertisers who are running ads in Skins sponsors, or co-presenters of ‘filth’. Let’s be honest, very few brands have values that would align with the values of the show. It’s easy for marketers to make a case not to place an ad in programming like this, even when the eyeballs are there.

Not only were people watching Skins (3.26 million was the official figure) they were also talking about it online, co-viewing with their social network. They were using backchannels like Twitter, which indicated that Skins was the #2 worldwide trending topic and #3 in the U.S. during the premier.

The question is, “What would happen if Brands started watching shows with us? Being just as snarky as us? Pointing out character flaws or calling B.S. on how teens are portrayed?”

I believe an action like that would move the brand from a sponsor of the show to a peer watching the show in real time with the audience. If they have a strong, charismatic and unique voice the audience would pay attention to what they have to say.

Starling is a co-viewing backchannel of television show fans who have decided to log on and watch shows like Skins together. This behavior was identified by Saneel Radia (@saneel) last year in a post titled ‘Social Media Flings‘ where he describes a group of people connect online around a subject they are all interested in. I asked the Co-Founder of Starling, Kevin Slavin (@slavin_fpo) about his views on co-presenting and co-viewing. You can read his thoughts below:

Traditional co-presenting is built on a vector that travels from broadcaster to audience, wherein the audience is defined as passive consumers of media. The emergent behavior of co-viewing is built on an audience that’s engaged. That engagement is with the media, but it’s also with each other, and whatever they love, they love more because they experience it together.

Or, to put it simply: it’s the difference between talking to, and speaking with. Brands have begun to get their head around speaking with users through digital media. Now they can build those kinds of conversations around traditional linear media, and that’s in everyone’s interests.

If you haven’t seen Starling, log on tonight during the broadcast of Skins (10 p.m. EST) and see what this backchannel is all about.


As an Engagement Planner I would rather be associated with the chatter (good or bad) around the show Skins instead of the show itself because it puts the brand into a culturally contextual co-viewing position instead of a co-presenter position.

While I was participating in the Mullen/ Radian 6 Brand Bowl (hash tag #BrandBowl) yesterday I was happy to see some brands co-view the event with me. These brands included Onion Sports, Chobani Greek Yogurt, Vine Yard Vines and Tom Tom to name a few. However, community mangers we sill need to walk a fine line as they co-view events with us. Kenneth Cole took a lot of slack for twisting the Egypt revolution into a sales tweet last week.

Tell us what you think. Are community managers up to the task of being proactive during culturally relevant events like Skins, the Super Bowl, etc? Are brands interesting enough to add a point of view on a show? Are brands able to act like normal people online?