It may seem like the most unlikely social-media platform to host a scripted superhero series, but Snapchat, the evanescent mobile-messaging app, will be getting just that from AT&T and its digital-media unit Fullscreen in collaboration with digital-media production house Astronauts Wanted.
The series, SnapperHero, launches today on Snapchat, best known for its tens of millions of young users who appreciate that the images and text they send through the service self-destruct within 10 seconds after being viewed. The Santa Monica company turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook this time last year, and more recently raised new funding that valued the company at $10 billion. Just this week, it announced a “Discover” section that will include news posts from a dozen media brands that will stay up for 24 hours at a time. And now it’s getting a scripted entertainment series.
With SnapperHero, five online influencers – Freddie Wong, Anna Akana, Jasmeet Singh, Harley Morenstein and Shaun McBride – will participate, with McBride also serving as creative director. Corridor Digital, which specializes in visual effects and action shots, will direct the series.
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The huge fan followings of the five stars (on YouTube, Vine and Snapchat) will be asked to provide input on what sort of superhero “powers” their favorites should have in the show, as well as identities, enemies, costumes and story lines, helping shape the resulting program.
The series will include a couple of months of build-up posts, showing behind-the-scenes activity and much else from the social-media stars. In March, the series will roll out with a dozen episodes, each 100 to 200 seconds long, over four weeks, said Billy Parks of Astronauts Wanted.
“It’s a really intimate platform,” said Parks. “People put stuff up there without it needing to be super polished and framed. We’d really like the of-the-moment feel to be part of the piece.”
Parks developed the project with UTA digital media agent Kendall Ostrow. It’s the second collaboration between AT&T and Astronauts Wanted. Previously, they created @SummerBreak, an online reality show, and successfully used Snapchat as a way to connect with audiences for the show. That new-school reality show drew 64 million views over two seasons.
“We want to produce and foster entertainment that engages the connected generation where they live,” said AT&T Engagement Marketing Director Liz Nixon. ‘This is a brand-new channel for us, our first-ever content endeavor here. It’s a little bit of blazing a trail of what this (new media-consumption) world will be like.”
Nixon said that while much of the content will reside on Snapchat, a more traditional two-part documentary about the whole process also will be created that will run on more “traditional” online platforms, to give fans more opportunity to get involved and stay connected.
“We’ll have some content that will live on” after the project is done, said Nixon. Some content will be shared on SnapperHero accounts on Twitter and Instagram, for instance. “But none of this is incredibly long form.”
For AT&T, SnapperHero is a chance to experiment with a new platform, and what Nixon said was the only one of the many mobile messaging apps that has a story-telling component appropriate for such projects. Importantly, it’s also a chance for AT&T to push its brand to mobile-minded Millennials where they live, on their phones, in the moment.
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