AT&T: Daybreak.

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.

AnonymousCoward's picture
AnonymousCoward's picture

You must be a BlackBerry user. If you have an iPhone, you probably are attached to it like a third appendage. I know I am. Did you watch episode 2 yet? I dunno, feels pretty organic to me. Deliberate but not unrealistic.

BTW did you really think Absolut Movie was successful as branded entertainment? I loved it but it was just Spike Jonze scamming Absolut for funding for his personal film. It had nothing to do with Absolut. It was ultimately a Chiat wank and a waste of millions of Absolut's dollars.

But speaking of Absolut, I found their Tim and Eric and Zach Galifianakis "A Vodka Movie" series to be the best branded entertainment ever. And it was full of product demos! Pour shots! Drinking from gigantic, sand-filled martini glasses!

kidsleepy's picture

I am a luddite and prefer cordless phones over anything else.

That being said I am putting myself in the mindset of a consumer as opposed to an advertising navel gazer. Most consumers aren't going to give "episode 2" another go if the first one was boring. If I don't like The New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel, I'm not going to keep watching it.

As for whether the Absolut Movie was successful as branded entertainment, define "successful." And Zach Galifianakis isn't a perfect comparison because a. it's booze, and b. this is mobile phones.

Spekaing of branded entertainment, If you know your TV history then you've no doubt heard of Texaco Star Theater which was the original 'branded entertainment model."

While they did show a thirty second jingle commercial during the show, and the name was branded Texaco (like Absolut movie) it was a variety show that had nothing to do with gasoline. Episodes didn't center around gasoline usage. No product demos. People weren't talking about gasoline. You know why? because in the branded entertainment name, the entertainment came first. Not product placement.

Was it successful branded entertainment? Well, considering it was on air from 1948-1956 and every night millions of people heard the word "Texaco," I'm gonna go with yes. Will Daybreak be successful enough to get millions of people playing with their phones and ipads and computers simultaneously? I'm gonna go with no.