NBC Universal knows what it's doing with these webisode things

Posted on Wed Sep 16 2009


There's a whole boatload of lousy branded entertainment floating around the Interwebs. See, for instance, the Lexus-backed "Web Therapy," where Lisa Kudrow plays a self-involved shrink with an accent so affected it could've been plucked straight out of a bad high-school drama. (She won a Webby for it, but honestly, I don't see the appeal.) But I get what NBC Universal's digital division is doing with its brand-integrated projects, and so far this year, they're two for two. The latest effort is called "In Gayle We Trust," starring a perpetually chirpy (not in a bad way) Elisa Donovan and sponsor American Family Insurance. The first three webisodes, created in partnership with Mindshare Entertainment, manage to cover the relevant-to-the-client brand messages while bringing the funny. That's not easy to do, and it's a testament to both the casting and the writing. An earlier series, "Ctrl," based on an award-winning short film, achieved that same delicate balance with 10 episodes starring Arrested Development's Tony Hale and Coca-Cola's Nestea. The marketer's front and center, pivotal to the plot, but doesn't fall into the common trap of beating the viewer over the head. NBC plans more of these videos, which get distribution via NBC.com, Hulu, iTunes and VOD. Other practitioners, watch and learn.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Your teen will drive well as long as a bunch of adults hold the car

Posted on Mon Aug 10 2009

The most reckless demographic owes you one, dude. In this spot for American Family Insurance, via Element 79 in Chicago, cars with inept teen drivers avoid gruesome accidents (such as getting pummeled by a racing train) when parental types show up and risk throwing out their backs by literally carrying the vehicles to safety. The ad, called "Human Wheels," promotes AFI's Teen Safe Driver program, which includes an in-car camera that activates when the driver swerves or quickly brakes. Parents can later view a video of the incident to see what their kids did wrong, which will likely horrify them. AFI claims the cameras, along with parental guidance, vastly improve teen driving. The lectures from Mom and Dad are probably less effective than the beady eye of the camera watching as the kids text and flip radio stations. Being forced to pay attention to the road would be a huge improvement, for young and old.

—Posted by Elana Glowatz



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