AT&T is the latest brand to leverage social to help extend a TV storyline. The wireless provider has partnered with Heroes‘ creator Tim Kring, also the creator of Fox’s Touch and their agency BBDO to launch Daybreak, a story told through five online films, two websites and a smartphone app, each exploring different facets of an exciting and complex character journey. The storyline is connected to Fox’s Touch and premiered right after the finale of the show.
There’s nothing worse then watching your favorite show end, knowing that you’ll have to wait months for it to return (and in some cases not knowing when it will return). AT&T recognized this unique opportunity and decided to create an entire web show that fans would love across multiple platforms, connecting to Touch in a way that’s sincere while not affecting the main plot at all. “Technology, fueled by AT&T’s 4G network, plays a starring role in Daybreak,” the brand describes on their website. ” The site also explains that “after visiting AT&T Labs, (Kring) was convinced that our technology could help him lead the future of storytelling, and Daybreak is a product of that.”
The storyline focuses on an object called an “ancient and mysterious objected called a dodecahedron,” which has be returned to avoid catastrophes. This object was also part of the finale episode of Touch, during which AT&T ran spots to promote the new web show. We attended the new show’s launch in New York City where we spoke with Mark Wright, VP Media Services & Sponsorhips for AT&T. We also spoke with creator and Executive Producer Tim Kring, David Lubars, BBDO Chair and Chief Creative Officer of BBDO North America and Mark Himmelsbach, BBDO Executive Vice President and Director of Digital Strategy North America.
“This is the first time we’ve done something like this,” Wright told Lost Remote after describing how this kind of entertainment and activation was two years in the making. “It will be mutually beneficial to Fox because we will be promoting Touch on our network,” he added. Discussing the storyline, he pointed out that, “AT&T technology will play a role in the storyline, not the main role but an important role,” he explained.
Lubars described the role BBDO played in the creation of the show. “BBDO is AT&T’s creative agency partner,” he explained. “Daybreak is being presented by AT&T in association with BBDO and Tim Kring,” he added. Himmelsbach told Lost Remote how he thinks Daybreak is making TV more social. “With Daybreak, we wanted to be more proactive in linking content with social media,” he explained. “We intentionally created the story so that it becomes richer and more compelling the deeper fans engage with social media, mobile technology, and other digital elements.”
Himmelsbach went on to describe how the show was launched with social in mind. “Of course, it helps that the show premiered on digital channels like the Daybreak site, YouTube and Hulu which allowed us to really harness the power of social media in our storytelling,” he told Lost Remote. “Social media allows us to turn viewers into fans – viewers are treated to a great piece of content every week on the digital content channels, but fans can go incredibly deep, interact with the story and each other, and become truly a part of Daybreak.”
Lost Remote: Tim, why did you decide to create Daybreak?
Tim Kring: I was approached by BBDO. They had a basic idea for creating a multi-platform narrative that was very familiar to me from my work on Heroes and Conspiracy For Good. They were thinking of the idea as a branded story that could use and integrate innovative technology that AT&T were coming up with. I, coincidentally, was looking for a way to tie a “transmedia” project to my show Touch, and the idea of the dodecahedron as a mystical object fit into the realm of the storytelling for Touch. So we began shaping a narrative together. Two years later Daybreak was the byproduct of this collaboration.
LR: Tim, do you use social media at all personally, and do you think social platforms are affecting TV?
Kring: I personally do very little in the social media space. I simply don’t have the time to tend that particular garden. I am however just about to dive in and make the time. I absolutely believe that for a show to gain real buzz there has to be a social component. The audience is making the experience of watching a show social whether they are prompted to or not. They are watching TV while connected to another connected device. Texting, posting, chatting, etc. This second screen offers a tremendously interesting challenge to a storyteller like me – how to create a kind of virtuous cycle between the screen on the wall (TV) and the one in their hand (usually mobile to some extent – smartphone, tablet). In other words, how do we send story to each of these platforms that enhance and support the other. This is the exciting part of multi-platform storytelling.
When we did Heroes, there was a huge audience around the world. This was a few years ago, and social media was not where it is today. We really didn’t know who that audience was. Now, however, not only can we find and talk directly to this audience, but they can now find and talk to each other. This is where it gets really interesting. When the fans of the show begin to create a social environment outside of the show, one that may just outlive the show itself. That’s exciting to me.