Magazine Produces First-ever Web Reality Dating Show
What happens when five single women embark on a blind-dating adventure in New York City to find love and romance? Sounds like a tagline for the latest Fox reality show, right? Actually, the recently completed “30 Dates in 30 Days,” produced by Time Inc.’s Essence magazine, marked the first-ever interactive reality dating show for the Web.
A great example of a consumer magazine blending Web 2.0 tools with its strong brand and its readership’s voracious appetite for original content, “30 Dates in 30 Days” paired five single women with six eligible bachelors. A daily “webisode” was unveiled to Essence.com visitors chronicling each date.
Essence received 400 responses from readers hoping to be selected as one of the single women featured on the show, and the magazine’s editors decided on five of them, ranging from a 28-year-old talent producer to a 43-year-old single mom and personal shopper. Their six suitors were professional men, including a doctor, banker, lawyer and entrepreneur.
Angela Burt-Murray, editor-in-chief of Essence, which has an audience of 7.7 million and a monthly circulation of 1.1 million, conceptualized the ground-breaking interactive dating show. From the outset, she knew that she wanted Essence.com visitors to help control the dates. Through online voting, viewers were able to choose who dated whom, the outfit each woman wore out that night, and the restaurant at which the couple dined, says Lesley Pinckney, Essence’s digital development director.
Essence Takes a Page from MTV
Pinckney joined Essence just four months ago to “re-engineer and restructure the Web property,” and was tasked with spearheading logistics and direction for “30 Dates in 30 Days.” She immediately put to use many of the skills and experience she had picked up in her previous employ as vice president of MTV Caribbean, where she ran production and development in the television space. Prior to MTV, Pinckney worked for Spike TV and, earlier, she spent eight years working on first-generation Web sites for Fortune 500 companies such as Budweiser and Reebok.