Long gone are the days of passive consumption and primetime tune-in—we've officially surpassed the tipping point wherein audiences require a second screen and sanctioned hashtag while watching their favorite shows. For young consumers, fandom doesn't stop at celebrating. In fact, a recent study found that 84% of Millennials believe that fans have ownership over whatever it is that they are fans of.
Building on its long history of fostering connection and its new role as an entertainment brand, AT&T challenged us to create the future of connected entertainment.
Cue "Guilty Party: History of Lying"—a real-time scripted mystery series that played out over eight weeks across seven social networks in a participatory multi-screen content experience. Behaving authentically in seven different social platforms meant that our challenge was to establish an art direction that would be recognizable as "Guilty Party," but that was flexible enough to change dependent on the platform or content that it was communicating.
In the world of advertising, fragmented networks can often mean the consumer is being delivered fragmented messages. The digital team does what's right for Twitter, the content team for YouTube, and the brand team focuses on creating ads, but the consumer experience can feel a bit like chaos. Our strategy was to break down traditional inter-agency barriers to work together to deliver a consistent message.
In creating the art direction for "Guilty Party: History of Lying," we combined platform trends, audience fan art, influencer trends, and took cues from classic mystery motifs resulting in a modern interpretation of detective entertainment branding.
Additionally, we created a distinct style-guide for every character ensuring that all of the in-world graphics revealed additional story clues from which fans might solve the mystery.
Finally, on our brand channels, we adopted the persona of the "God of Lying" which allowed us to intensify the art direction without breaking the story-world.
"Guilty Party: History of Lying" created a new template for audience participation in entertainment. In total, the franchise published eight episodes, 21 character vlogs, eight podcast episodes, and 1,700+ pieces of social content—a lot of disparate pieces that were successfully brought together through the overall art direction.
In fact, the influencers that we cast to star in "Guilty Party" loved the look of the show so much that they frequently shared our show content on their own social channels, resulting in roughly 200 non-contracted influencer posts.
In the end, "Guilty Party" garnered over 89 million views and over 83 million fan engagements. In fact, on YouTube—where we had no paid media—our engagement rate averaged 19.94%, far above industry and category norms.
And honestly, those engagements keep on coming. Despite the season being over, fans are still active both on Discord and in the Google Classroom using them as safe spaces to continue to explore tough issues. Additionally, we were able to see brand lift on key metrics such as relevance and innovation for viewers.
But perhaps what made us the most happy were the thousands of comments illustrating the lasting impact the show had on individuals like this one fan: "Thank you for allowing us, the audience, to experience such a great story as if we were there. Can't wait to see what AT&T has planned for the future and how we can get involved and help!!"