Richard Castle is a New York Times bestselling author of mystery novels. His novel Heat Wave debuted at #26 in 2009 and moved up to the sixth slot in its fourth week. In 2011, Heat Rises debuted at #1. The most impressive part of his literary success: Richard Castle is a fictional character.

Richard Castle is the protagonist on ABC’s television series, Castle. He is a writer that shadows a beautiful and tough NYPD detective, Kate Beckett, for writing inspiration. While working with her, Castle writes a series of mystery novels named after their protagonist, Nikki Heat, based on Detective Beckett and the crimes they encounter.

How did Richard Castle, a fictional character, become a significant marketing tool for ABC’s television series, Castle?

1. Using A Fictional Character To Market Across Mixed Media

Would you like to own the Wilson volleyball from Cast Away, or eat a box of Bertie Bott’s “Every Flavour Beans” from Harry Potter?

When several companies collaborate, the impossible is achieved. After the huge hit of Harry Potter books and films, Warner Bros. linked with Jelly Belly to create Bertie Bott’s “Every Flavour Beans” to targeting a massive fan base of Harry Potter fans.  

Marketing across different platforms offers new ways to sell to dedicated fans, and to attract new customers to your brand. As an affiliate of The Walt Disney Company’s Media Networks, ABC’s Castle has accessed promotional resources across numerous Disney media groups, such as Hyperion Books and Marvel Comics. Hyperion Books has published Richard Castle’s books and Marvel has created two Richard Castle graphic novels. Since his books are tied thematically into the majority of the episodes’ plot and character premises, fans have been eager to buy them.

Through several online and offline bookstores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Richard Castle sells his books as a credible author. As seen in this picture, Richard Castle projects a legitimate author profile on Goodreads, blending his fictional and nonfictional biographical facts. When debuting at high positions on the New York Times Bestseller lists, and participating in national book tours, Nathan Fillion, as Richard Castle, successfully promotes himself and the show’s premise, bringing new fans to his books and the ABC television show.

2.  Creating A Personal Interaction With Your Brand

Cliffhangers in television drama are successful techniques to hook audiences season after season. What will happen in season 5? Who is the killer? Why did he marry her?

To draw fans of the television show to Richard Castle’s books, similar crimes and characters are constructed, yet do not simultaneously bring you up to speed with the television show. While intertwining with each other, the books and the show are separate stories. Written in the voice and style of Richard Castle, the book’s characters mirror the characters - Richard and Kate - of the show.  

So if you love the show, then you will love the books.

A unique marketing tool that ABC television uses to create viewer-to-media interaction is through the interweaving of novel and television plotlines. Fans are encouraged to read the books meanwhile watching the show to personally connect to the internal drama. An example is Castle’s season four finale when Richard Castle’s new Nikki Heat book, Frozen Heat, had an obvious dedication to his long-term love interest, Detective Beckett. However, the audience could not read this dedication on the show, they had to wait for the book’s release that summer.

Encouraging fan interaction is a successful way to inspire brand awareness, as it allows fans to take part in the show in between Castle’s seasons and episodes. Other brands, like Nike, have created products that promote brand-fan interaction to increase brand awareness and favorability. Nike, the athletic shoe brand, recently launched a product called Nikefuel that measures your movement through several devices and reports it online. With Nikefuel, Nike forms a closer connection to their fans by providing both personal gear and measurement for their active routine.

3. Using Internet Resources To Make Richard Castle Real

Do fictional characters exist if they talk online?

Through online websites and social media, fictional characters have broken the fourth wall in connecting to their fans directly and more intimately.

With the quick post-and-response available on Twitter and Facebook, brands, celebrities, and characters have been able to connect more personally to their fans. A toaster, Homer Simpson, and Richard Castle all have Twitter accounts, and they all tweet as if they were real-world personas.

Although Richard Castle is a fictional character, he is relatively more “real” than cartoon characters and kitchen appliances. He has real-world credentials - his impressive novel sales - to personify him. Keeping a consistent voice throughout his Facebook and Twitter, Richard Castle does not merely post duplicates of the TV show’s one-liners. Instead, he asks personal questions, promotes his new book releases, and writes fairly mundane statements about his life in Manhattan. Oddly, he writes like any other real-life celebrity!

In order to round out his persona online, author Richard Castle has an official website for his books and authorship. It includes an ‘about me’ section, a featured booklist, the latest news, and a Q & A section dedicated to answering his fans’ questions. His website is exceptionally realistic.

The line between reality and fiction has blurred as Richard Castle, a fabricated author, has succeeded as an actual author in the real world. By intermixing media and launching viewer-to-media interaction, ABC has used the character of Richard Castle to market Castle in a relatively new and unique way.

Will interactive TV be the next big marketing move for future shows?

With the dominance of social media and digital television, television shows are finding new ways to promote themselves, and to get viewers involved with the brand. From the Partridge Family releasing LPs to the cast of Glee performing live, Richard Castle’s fictional life has raised the fans’ demand to interact with television shows and characters. With the ability to journey into a fictional world, fans are enjoying every move fiction makes into reality. Perhaps fictional characters will start blogging or filming podcasts? With the real world intersecting into the digital one, the imaginable becomes more realistic every day.