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AT&T, Fullscreen to Back Digital Influencers in Months-Long Projects

AT&T continues trying to reach out and touch a new generation of video-watchers who prefer the screen on their mobile device to the one in their living room.

The telecommunications giant will team up with Fullscreen, the streaming-video content network to develop what it calls the AT&T Hello Lab, a year-long project that will allow 10 different content creators to develop concepts and distribute them over a longer period of time. The effort will give AT&T credit for delivering the content while helping the creators use their mobile phones and social media to reach an audience.

The project shows AT&T continuing to experiment with new forms of entertainment designed expressly for mobile devices. In the last few years, AT&T and Fullscreen have developed “@Summerbreak,” a “series” about kids enjoying one last summer before heading to college and “SnapperHero,” a scripted series with a superhero theme crafted for the instant-messaging app Snapchat.

“It’s a brand-new form of storytelling,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer of AT&T Mobility, in an interview. “We don’t know exactly where this is going to go, but that’s what’s so exciting about it. It will be dictated by creators and their fans.”

AT&T’s Hello Lab has signed YouTube and E! star Grace Helbig; travel team Damnon and Jo; Vine music act Us the Duo; magician Collins Key; former NBA player-turned-Instagram comedian Brandon Armstrong; and Snapchat star Shaun McBride, also known as “Shonduras.” Ten different “influencers” will be in place by the end of the year.

The first program to launch will be “Dare to Travel,” in which Damon and Jo will visit new different locales propelled by viewers. The content will include interactive challenges on Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter that will connect fans to the stars over the course of filming. Episodes will broadcast weekly on their YouTube channel.

In many cases, said George Strompolos, Fullscreen’s chief executive and founder, “marketers have thought of these creators in very transactional ways,: moving on from working with them after a quick project or tie-in. “There have been a lot of one-offs,” he said. The AT&T effort enlists the creative folks for a period of several months, and gives them a chance to develop an audience and hone a project.

The partners have reason to test the waters further. “@SummerBreak,” now casting its fourth season, has won more than 150 million views and 2.9 billion impressions. “SnapperHero” won 186,000 followers over the course of ten weeks.

The influencers will by and large be able to take on other projects, said Strompolos. Helbig, for example, can still work on her blogs and other endeavors. The agreement with AT&T carries with it category exclusivity, the executives said, meaning the creators likely could not strike an agreement with another telecommunications entity.

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