As a television producer, Adam Reed quickly learned that you can have a great show, but if it isn’t promoted, no one will know.
The Los Angeles-based executive producer of reality hits like "Marriage Boot Camp" and "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" is using his Hollywood skills to build out Reindeer in Here, a plush toy and book in the genre of Elf on the Shelf.
Reindeer in Here, though, has a kinder storyline than the prankster Elf. The reindeer’s message is "being different is normal," thanks to its mismatched antlers.
Kids are encouraged to hold their Reindeers and confide their dreams, unlike the no-touch Elf on the Shelf persona. Parents also don’t have to plan and execute daily Elf stunts.
Reindeer marketing, though, is full force.
Reindeer in Here, along with Social Media Link’s online community unit, Vesta, launched ReindeerTown, an online community for families and educators a few weeks ago, and it has already signed up 9,500 members.
On YouTube, there’s a Reindeer in Here Rock video, produced by Reed, that is gaining traction as it aims to become the viral Baby Shark of the winter.
"I have celebrities and influencers doing it," said Reed, of the dance. Reindeer in Here Rock got a publicity boost from "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" deejay, Stephen "tWitch" Boss and his wife, Allison Holker, both of whom starred on the reality show, "So You Think You Can Dance," when they posted their Reindeer Rock dance on Instagram.
Stars like Jewel, and reality personalities, Kristin Cavallari and Angelica Hale, the young America’s Got Talent singer who had a kidney transplant at age 5, use their social media to share the embrace-all-differences message. "Ninety-five percent of our celebrity interaction is unpaid," said Reed. "It doesn’t hurt that I am in the TV business."
As millennial parents create their own holiday traditions, "being different is normal" is a message for our times, believes Reed. Just as TV shows need a community to survive their first season, he sees online communities as a way to grow the Reindeer in Here audience.
"Consumers are craving to connect with brands to get behind the scenes and be a part of something great," said Susan Frech, CEO of Social Media Link.
ReindeerTown is directed toward adults. There’s a lively forum where parents share what makes their families different. "It is not just about a plush toy, moms can come here and start conversations around things that are important," said Frech.
Ninety percent of teachers told Frech and her team in a survey that they "want to start a new Christmas tradition and Reindeer in Here’s theme interests them." The site provides lesson plans and tips on holiday classroom decorating.
Covering home and school is part of Reed’s 360-degree brand vision.
Next up are ways to push the "different is normal" message beyond Reindeer in Here’s December moment. Reed has developed a show and is shopping it to television and over-the-top media services. He’s also developed new characters that spread the "different is normal" message year-round.