Daybreak is an interesting piece of branded content that was put together by BBDO for US mobile operator AT&T to promote their new smartphone range and network services over the summer.
A clever use of web episodes, a plot that weaves in science and new age theories and an application that tries to involve the audience in the storyline. It was a smart way of engaging with a young gadget buying demographic.
It harks back to two earlier parts of media history:
- Branded content like Daybreak was a staple of commercial radio, particularly in the US during the early 20th century, it is why we call the likes of Coronation Street and Eastenders ‘soap operas’. It really took off during the great depression. Procter & Gamble made a counter-cyclical bet on increasing their media spend. A good deal of that money was poured into the new media of sponsored radio dramas. Economic growth was stimulated through the US government’s ‘New Deal’ and the rest as they say was history
- The multi-channel storytelling across video, applications and third party websites harks back at least as far as 2001 when Electronic Arts released Majestic. Majestic used hidden websites, online messaging services, SMS, voice mails and even fax messages to engage with its players and was unique for the level of its online / offline integration. Majestic’s subscription model paved the way for modern games console subscriptions. Majestic was very much of its time, it was coming after the end of the cold war when conspiracy based shows like the X Files were fun rather than the stuff of reactionary politics. It was released at a bad time, with 9/11 having happened and then a diminished demand once they started it up again killed it for good. Canadian TV show ReGenesis used a mix of interactive web content to bring the audience into the story as a protagonist for the four seasons that it ran