Millennials do not want your ads.
They block them. Skip them. And should they accidentally see one, 84% say they don't like
or trust them. Which is why when AT&T tasked us with driving relevancy with Millennial consumers, we knew traditional ads weren't going to cut it. We needed to create something that added enough value to a young consumer's day that they would both seek it out and trust it.
So we introduced the world to "Starter Pack"—the first ever branded Facebook Watch series. Hailed by the New York Times as one of the top six shows on the emerging platform, our weird workplace comedy pioneered a new kind of multiplatform brand storytelling—one that fostered meaningful connection between AT&T and millennial audiences, both online and IRL. Our challenge was to establish an art direction that would be recognizable as "Starter Pack," but that was flexible enough to change dependent on the platform or content. Oh, and it had to feel authentically connected to internet culture otherwise we knew the trolls would quickly take over the comments.
Though Millennials get a bad reputation of being "spoiled," recent studies have shown that they work longer hours, take less vacation, and are more likely to identify as "work martyrs" than any other generation. Simultaneously, Millennials spend over 200 minutes online every day.
So, when AT&T tasked us with creating branded entertainment for this overworked generation, we decided to make a show that lived where they spend their breaks—social media.
Enter, Starter Pack—a workplace comedy that follows Ayana (played by creator Jasmine Luv) as she heads to yet another museum job interview where she will likely be deemed "under qualified." When she becomes flustered mid-interview and makes an off-hand mocking comment about the idea of a Meme Museum, the PR team decide that's exactly the kind of event and publicity they need to become relevant in the art world again and hires her to bring this vision to life. With her dream job on the line, Ayana is determined to find "art" in the medium she previously deemed "the scum of the Internet."
Spoiler alert: there are a lot of memes involved. Because it's hard to remember life before memes dominated our newsfeeds.
In establishing our art direction, we took inspiration from traditional workplace comedies, memes, worked with artists from all corners of the internet and infused the look with tons of color and energy.
Each week, we dropped our episodes at a time when working-Millennials reported most needed a breather from work---Monday afternoons. Designed to be consumed on the emerging platform of Facebook Watch, "Starter Pack" utilized colorful animation to attract attention on the feed. Each week we had the internet invade the story by incorporating the art direction through animation directly into the episodes. These invasions reflected the storyline and brought with them such design pieces as vaporwave, surreal memes, pixel art, and animated characters. In addition to episodes, characters came to life with their own social media accounts on Instagram. Daily short-form videos from the ensemble creator cast followed Ayana's hero journey from a range of perspectives over the course of the show's eight-week flight.
Working with the show-runner, we established distinct art directions for each character enabling fans to learn more about the story with every post.
In total, the first season of "Starter Pack" featured eight main episodes and 26 mockumentary episodes on Facebook Watch. Fans, at first, were slightly confused about Facebook Watch, but with a little bit of education we were able to garner 72 million views. In fact, the show's retention pacing was above the industry average. Average time spent viewing episodes surpassed that from results in the marketplace by 52% and those viewers were more likely to consider AT&T relevant to their generation.
Additionally, Starter Pack accrued 38 million engagements, and 330 million impressions across 1,706 social posts. Not to mention, the show generated an estimated 86M press impressions.
To conclude the "Starter Pack" experience, we launched Log On: The Internet Experience, a two-day immersive pop-up museum for fans IRL. Over the course of the weekend, attendees got to experience iconic Internet installments that were larger than life resulting in an additional 1.5+ million impressions and 879k+ content views.
With the help of its weird and totally wacky art direction, "Starter Pack" was able to pioneer branded content on an entirely new platform. Sure, it wasn't always easy, but you know you've done something right when the New York Times calls out your show as one of Facebook Watch's "best scripted originals," helping the platform become a competitive streaming alternative. #notsohumblebrag