In partnership with BBDO and Tim Kring and RSA Films, AT&T gets into the product-demonstration, er, branded-content business, with Daybreak. A new series featuring five online episodes, a microsite, an app and the HTC One X. The series was directed by John Cassar who also directs "24."
There are loads of things to drive you around the web in case you aren't content with merely watching the episodes. Like the main site, Day Break, and a super techy microsite called Jack Boxers which sounds more like something I wear than an app designed to do whatever it's supposed to do.
In the first nine minute episode, we are greeted in the pre-credits scene with dialogue between two people as they're driving frantically to elude the police. Character: "I'm going to give you a Jack App and buy you some time. HOOK YOUR PHONE UP TO THIS!"
Yeah. The products are definitely front and center. Because after the credits we see a a man making phone call, another man holding a tablet device, using a voice memo app, and then a long involved discussion about how many times a phone was called.
Watching the first episode, the product demos are so obvious and jarring they are only slightly more subtle than the in-show product placements for The Biggest Loser:
Trainer Bob: "Hey y'all, if you're hungry and want something healthy to eat, try Jennie-O Turkey. It's got less than 500 milligrams of sodium and is a great alternative to ground beef."
Contestant: "Jennie-O Turkey? Where can I find it?"
Trainer Bob: "Jennie-O Turkey is found in your Grocer's deli section."
Look, I have nothing against branded content (Although "In association with BBDO" in the credits is a bit much) but I would appreciate it if they toned down the sell.
See Spike Jonze's Absolut movie for an example of entertainment without the demos.
As a slight digression: In advertising we might use our devices like a third appendage, but the rest of the normal folks aren't as enthused with AT&T's service or practices. Wouldn't BBDO be better served to solve AT&T's horrendous image problem rather than distracting us with shiny object fluff?
Maybe some people will tune in to Daybreak. It's shot to look like a Bourne Movie, or another CSI. Hyper editing, lots of shadows, mumbled dialogue. It's certainly watchable. But The Reluctant Hero Who Initially Isn't Willing To Face The Truth But Then For The Good Of All Mankind Decides To Man Up, doesn't exactly scream original content.
And speaking of original, didn't BBDO Chairman and CCO David Lubars mine the same branded content movie territory for BMW eleven years ago when he was at Fallon?
We'll see if lightning strikes twice.