In an effort to reach younger audiences, AT&T launched a mobile-based social media campaign connected to the popular teen series Riverdale.
Objective and Context:
AT&T is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies, providing cell phone services, home broadband, and TV services to millions of Americans. With wireless services, access to great entertainment through DirecTV and greater internet speeds, AT&T promises consumers "More For Your Thing:" in other words, the brand delivers value and premiere entertainment experience, and wants to be known as the company that enhances the content audiences love.
Despite its successful history, AT&T was struggling to reach newer and younger audiences across an increasingly fractured media landscape. The brand needed to reach this audience of millennials and remind them that with AT&T they could get "More For Your Thing."
In 2017 and 2018, the brand leveraged the popularity of the TV show Riverdale for a mobile social campaign, sharing show content with audiences via a special AT&T-sponsored Instagram account for the popular character, Kevin Keller (@TheKevinthWonder). AT&T looked to continue the success of that campaign in this new initiative.
AT&T's target audience was millennials. The brand identified three key insights about their media habits:
Since 2016, millennials have been watching CW's show Riverdale, a teen drama based on the characters of Archie Comics. The series follows the life of Archie Andrews and his high-school friends as they explore the dark history behind Riverdale's seemingly perfect image.
For the campaign, AT&T would create engaging, participatory social media experiences to reach Riverdale fans in places where they primarily spend time, on digital and mobile social media platforms. Content would include scripted and unscripted content, behind-the-scenes content, and shareable social pieces, all pertaining to the Riverdale show.
AT&T intended to release the content in four "bursts," each led by a piece of "hero" content related to the biggest moments from Riverdale's third season. A second screen message would give the target audience "more for their Riverdale thing," providing viewers with additional content about the show and characters they love, made available at their convenience. AT&T would promote content across Riverdale social and digital properties, and across The CW social media channels, supported by in-episode graphics.
Overall Campaign Execution:
For burst No. 1, AT&T shared an exclusive performance by Josie, a singer in the show, including behind-the-scenes footage and a 360-virtual tour of the set.
For burst No. 2, AT&T produced "Between Two Vixens," a two-part social series, spotlighting the fan-favorite topic "the show's best relationships," hosted by the actors. Additional elements included shareable Riverdale-themed Valentine's Day cards.
AT&T launched burst No. 3 during a musical episode of Riverdale, bringing fans behind-the-scenes content and interviews about the choreography, wardrobe, and music.
The final burst was released during the prom night season finale with an exclusive custom-scripted "promposal" scene in which the character of Fangs Fogarty plans a proposal for his boyfriend, Kevin Keller, using his AT&T phone.
Each burst spanned a minimum of one week and was promoted across Riverdale and CW's linear, digital, and social platforms. AT&T was highlighted in on-screen graphics on broadcast and streaming channels, reminding fans AT&T was giving them "More for their Riverdale thing."
Content was specifically designed to work on mobile devices where the target audience spends most of its time. According to Facebook, people consume content 41 percent faster on mobile news feeds than on desktop computers, so AT&T videos were designed to drive maximum engagement on these channels.
To drive views, the brand focused on pushing content to mobile news feeds via Riverdale's Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter channels and lookalike audiences on YouTube.
In and around the main content bursts, AT&T shared weekly Instagram posts from the character Kevin Keller (@TheKevinthWonder), bridging the gap between the show and social media and integrating the character account from the previous year's campaign.
The four-part content campaign featured extra content from the third season of Riverdale, a favorite show of millennials, with the AT&T brand seamlessly and organically interwoven into each burst.
Social content pushed AT&T's brand in front of millennials, generating more than 62 million impressions across all digital and social platforms.
Video and social media content from burst No. 2 garnered 15 million social impressions alone. Overall, content achieved $1.5 million of earned total media promotional value, with 50 percent overperformance of program investment. Burst No. 4 hero videos were watched more than 521,000 times, becoming the eighth-most watched video on the Riverdale YouTube channel.
Video view rates (VVR) were:
Riverdale fans posted 23 percent more Tweets about AT&T on integration days.
AT&T Riverdale linear elements exceeded custom linear branded content norms by 24 percent. The Riverdale second-season premiere attracted 2.3 million viewers, making it the highest-rated and most-watched episode of the show to date.
Ratings for the show's second season increased a record 60 percent over its first season. Riding this wave of popularity, AT&T's mobile-first social content delivered to Riverdale fans, generating more than 60 million impressions and $1.5 million of earned media value.
Buoyed by associations with the series, in Q2 2019, the operating income of AT&T's entertainment business (which includes WarnerMedia and DirecTV, the pay-TV platform through which fans can watch the show), rose 2.6 percent. WarnerMedia delivered a strong quarter with both revenue and operating income growth, while profitability in the AT&T Entertainment Group continued to stabilize and even grow.