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Foxtel: The Inside Job To Steal No.1

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Wentworth is an Australian TV series set in a female prison. To make Wentworth number one every week, it needed to challenge the traditional approach to promoting TV shows, because Australians simply weren’t watching TV in the traditional way.

More viewers than ever before were bypassing live TV to binge every episode on demand after the season had ended. 

In contrast, Mindshare's task was to drive live viewing of a non-reality show every week of the season, on a subscription network accessed by just 32% of Australians. 

To make matters worse, when it looked at the social behaviour of Wentworth fan groups from previous seasons, the agency realised that if just one or two fans waited to binge or watch on-demand, it stifled the excitement of the entire group as they waited for them to catch up. Its audience were tuning in for the social experience, but this was becoming increasingly difficult to be found.

Somewhat fittingly, however, the show itself was set in a prison, the most isolated environment imaginable, completely cut-off from the outside world. 

This was the hook it needed. By exploiting this tension between the brand’s offering and consumer need, it could give consumers a truly compelling reason to tune-in every week.


So Mindshare's strategy was clear: watch Wentworth with someone on the inside. 

This viewing companion would have to make tuning-in live a unique experience. 

Working with Foxtel the agency created an anonymous inmate in the fictional prison setting of Wentworth. She would act as a ‘prison rat’ who could smuggle out secrets, prison gossip and exclusive content every week.

As a character she had more credibility than any influencer. As a rat she had more access than anyone else. And as a Wentworth prisoner she was the most foul-mouthed viewing companion you could imagine. 

This character would contact fans to build excitement before each episode, fuel the conversation during the live broadcast with exclusive content and seed theories each week to make next week’s episode a must-see. 

This new viewing companion would become a conduit, confidant and co-conspirator for exploring every lurid detail in every scene, every week.


The execution was designed around introducing the new character, earning fans’ trust and making every episode a unique live experience.

Phase 1: Introduce The Character

It launched with cryptic social posts revealing existing characters interacting with a contraband phone. Then “breaking news” style footage of the prison governor refusing to comment on the existence of a rat within the prison.

Social conversation volume tripled as fans frantically pieced together the pieces of the puzzle. 

Phase 2: Earn The Fans’ Trust

Fans were desperate to make contact with the Rat. The agency collaborated with cutting-edge messaging specialists to design a Facebook Messenger bot to bring her to life. 

Now the Rat could engage fans one-on-one. It scripted every potential interaction to earn their trust, revealing audio clips of conversations and secret footage that only an inmate would have access to. Every interaction was high-stakes, as the Rat frantically tried to respond to fans between cell searches.

Now fans knew The Rat was real the agency had to make it their viewing companion every week. 

Phase 3: Make Every Episode A Unique Live Experience

Throughout the week the Rat would feed cryptic content through Messenger from behind bars. During the episode it shared reactions to key scenes and then invited fans to join a Facebook Live broadcast called the Interrogation Room. 

The Interrogation Room was a new programme dedicated to the fans and hosted exclusively on Facebook. Here they could see the show’s stars debate the Rat’s identity and discuss fan theories. 

This created a new routine around the live broadcast and ensured they watched every week, with the Rat as their viewing companion.


The new character changed the way fans watched Wentworth. 

Wentworth was the No.1 drama for every single week it was on air.

By making The Rat a viewing companion it had beaten the temptation to binge. Foxtel retained 79% of viewers between each episode, surpassing previous season figures despite 50% less budget.

The Messenger innovation set a new standard for the platform with over 2.2M interactions. That’s real fans talking directly to the Rat every week. 

The average fan spent 1hr 9mins talking to the Rat: an incredible 1.4 years of cumulative time spent engaging with the virtual character. 95% of those fans talked to the Rat throughout the entire season. 

The fictional character became a fan favourite and part of Wentworth culture. In a live interview on national TV during Australia's biggest TV award show the Wentworth stars were grilled on who was really behind the Rat.

This innovative use of media has created a new strategy for promoting broadcast in the era of on-demand. By creating an entirely new character and inviting fans into the programme, it made sure they would watch every single week in record numbers.

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