Who is the greatest American ever? Discovery Channel and America Online have teamed up to answer that question with a campaign that combines original television and online programming with interactive online features.
The initiative, which kicked off January 13, will give Americans a chance to determine who will be named the “Greatest American,” inviting them to submit nominations and to vote through the AOL.com Web site or at AOL Keyword: Greatest American. Through February 1, Americans can nominate up to five individuals they believe most influenced the way they think, work and live. The top 100 nominees will be announced in March.
The effort will culminate in a Discovery Channel series beginning in May, highlighting the top vote-getters and the person named as the “Greatest American.”
From March through May, Discovery Channel will provide AOL with packaged biographies of top vote-getters arranged by category, such as politicians, sports figures, news personalities and celebrities, that will be available for viewing online. In addition, Discovery Channel will provide AOL with “person on the street” interviews with ordinary Americans as they share their thoughts on who the “Greatest American” is and why.
Discovery Channel will premiere the first episode of the “Greatest American” series in May, profiling a selection from the top 100 nominees based on online submissions. Viewers can then cast votes online to pare down the list, and each subsequent show will profile leading vote-getters, with the eventual No. 1 choice profiled in the final episode in June. The programs will highlight the candidates’ lives, and will feature interviews with celebrities and national figures who will discuss the country’s top choices.
In addition to being an interesting hook into American history, the multimedia aspect is intriguing as well. Who are your five greatest Americans? How did you decide? What is “greatness”?