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