If serialized storytelling – especially the “soapy” variety as we know it – migrated to the Internet, what would that look like?
How would it be presented? What kind of story would be told?
Here’s a snapshot of what that could look like.
Welcome to The Neverything.
What, you ask, is The Neverything? Well, it was a series of short films that writer Kirt Gunn created a few years ago. It’s a unique story, though it’s been compared to Stranger Than Fiction because it shares one aspect (fictional characters becoming aware of their fictional nature and/or becoming real).
Where this story becomes interesting – and relevant – is that Mercury (the car company) was the sponsor for these films online. It was a symbiotic relationship, to be sure.
The films were featured on Mercury’s website; as a result, the platform to launch awareness of these films was far more prominent than may have been the case otherwise. And Mercury got a promotional tool for its cars that engaged the viewer and broke through the old, static car commercial.
This worked for Gunn because he was ultimately using the shorts as trailers for a longer film, called Lovely by Surprise (see an extended interview here). Of course, a similar concept comes to mind for me – serialized storytelling with one or two sponsors supporting those episodes. They might be every day, or (a la Night Shift) once a week. They could be on iTunes, as well (though the sponsorship segment becomes a moot point there).
The winning point here – the one that P&G and others are probably looking at – is the ways that new media can engage the advertisers. We know that P&G is already looking at ways to incorporate new media into its bag of tricks. Having a Twitter profile for Guiding Light character Mindy Lewis might seem like a lark for PR purposes. But that profile continues to be updated in a way that not only promotes the show as it’s airing, but talks about characters offscreen – which keeps those characters alive.
Broadcasting may be fading, but if there’s a way to engage viewers and lead them to a program AND its sponsor (or an iTunes payment model), then narrowcasting might just be the way of the future.