Most of us are fascinated by big. Big beings. Big things. Big wins. Big flops.
To be “big,” it seems, is to embody some irresistible combination of nagging improbability and awe-inspiring possibility.
Dinosaurs. The Hindenburg. Sumo wrestlers. The Titanic. Blue whales. Yao Ming. Babe Ruth. World’s tallest buildings. Broadway’s Spider Man show.
It can be not only eye- but mind-opening to ponder that which is truly big in life and business. Will it survive? Will it ship? Will it fail stupendously? What mark or lessons will it leave in its wake?
If that person is attempting something that big, am I thinking big enough? As a company, as a brand, do we need to go big…at least bigger…or go home?
If you lead marketing for your business, you might find yourself in discussions and debates — with colleagues, withing the C-suite, probably even with yourself — about how far, how deep, how BIG can (or should?) your organization go with its content strategy.
To give you a benchmark against which to measure, Content Is Marketing will occasionally point out what appear (at least to us) to be new, noteworthy, BIG content programs. Programs you might want to know about and study (or maybe not, depending on how smart they seem to you, or how they play out).
Marketing Technology via Transmedia
Want a tell-tale sign you’re about to embark on a big content initiative? You find yourself ordering one of those folding canvas director’s chairs, customized with the name of someone famous on the back.
For AT&T (which probably ordered more than one of those chairs for Daybreak), the big name was Tim Kring, creator of FOX TV’s Crossing Jordan, Heroes and, most recently, Touch. It was with the Touch season finale last month that Kring and AT&T launched Daybreak, a series of five short, action-packed films. They track the story arc of a character, Ben Wilkins, as he strives to outmaneuver a global conspiracy and return a mysterious object (a 12-sided cube, or dodecahedron) to its proper place, making extensive use of advanced AT&T technologies to ensure that the world as we know it keeps spinning.
The story, and the strategy, are too complex and multi-faceted to explain in detail here. That’s in part because, as Esther Lee, AT&T’s SVP of brand marketing and advertising, explained in a recent blog post, the company elected to work with Kring because he’s considered a pioneer in “transmedia,” or cross-platform entertainment. In addition, she wrote, Kring’s work often focuses on “themes such as interconnectivity and global consciousness made possible through technology.”
A partial list of media, marketing platforms and content formats Kring and AT&T “trans-ed” to deliver the Daybreak experience are TV programming (the dodecahedron first appeared in the last three episodes of Touch), TV ads, the web (both content and ads), blogging, Twitter (#daybreak2012), Flikr, public relations and a Daybreak sweepstakes (sorry, entries closed yesterday).
To immerse yourself further in what AT&T is thinking and doing with Daybreak, check out:
- The Daybreak section of AT&T’s website, which serves as an introductory gateway to the program
- The Daybreak site, where you can view all five episodes
- Esther Lee’s post, “A New Day for Brand Marketing.”
- A Fast Company feature on Kring and his approach to storytelling
- The New York Times’ pre-launch take on the program
Here’s the elevator-speech intro AT&T provides on its website:
“Technology, fueled by AT&T’s 4G network, plays a starring role in Daybreak. In the series, we showcase AT&T technologies — some of which are available in the marketplace, and others that represent how scientists in our labs re-imagine what’s possible.”
What’s the Big Deal?
Is Daybreak a smart and successful content program, or just a big one? Too early to tell. I do know that when I search “daybreak” on Google, the first result is for an ABC TV program, starring actor Taye Diggs, which debuted and then fizzled after only six episodes in 2006. Right there, given the investment AT&T was making, I have a hunch it would have been better to go in another, fresh direction on the program name.
But this Big Content post is not a case study or a formal critique. It’s mostly meant as a heads up, pointing out a possible benchmark for you and your organization.
If you’re interested in learning more about where “big” is on the content marketing spectrum, you can explore Daybreak for yourself. And with the sweeps now closed, there’s a good chance we’ll hear some reporting of results soon.
Assuming, that is, AT&T’s products helped Ben Wilkins return the dodecahedron to its rightful home.
Have you been tracking Daybreak or is this news to you? Any thoughts on whether this sort of content program will be effective in helping AT&T get consumers excited about its advanced technologies — and engaged with its brand?
This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.