Real creatives help fake creatives help Altoids in new Web series

Posted on Wed Sep 23 2009

It's hilarious to watch a bunch of dumb fictitious copywriters pitching lame advertising ideas for real-world brands, right? Yeah, maybe it was a dozen years ago, before everybody and their brother picked up that conceit for their commercials, with varying degrees of success. It may look easy, but it's not. The newest on the scene is a Webisode series called Brainstorm that centers on a struggling ad agency called Yogurt that's trying to win the Altoids business. "Creatives" at the firm come up with such possible taglines as, "The bicuriously strong mint," "White power," "Suck it, biatch" and "Roomba for your tongue." Who's going to save the day? A smarmy hotshot freelancer who prattles on about his global adventures and has invented something called twoggling (a combo of Twitter, Google and blogging). He also lifted an idea from a colleague—it's a butt-faced, fart-breathing guy who transforms with an Altoid. Don Draper, he is not. But of course, everybody loves it. The series, from Fox Mobile Studios, launches next week on a couple of sites and then goes wide to MySpace, YouTube, Metacafe, AT&T devices and others on Oct. 7. Altoids has always had a sense of humor about itself, deftly reflected in its advertising, but there's not much evidence of that in Brainstorm. Back to the storyboards, guys.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

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

Posted on Wed Sep 16 2009

In_gayle_we_trust

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

Full speed ahead for the Chevy Traverse in new TBS microseries

Posted on Wed Jan 28 2009

My-manny

There's good news for Webisodes and the brands that love them.
  "In the Motherhood," a series of online shorts about moms coping with their chaotic lives—with help from Sprint Nextel services and Suave hair care products—has been turned into a half-hour sitcom and just got picked up for the midseason lineup on ABC. It will anchor a new comedy block on Thursdays, one of the most competitive nights of TV. The show will star Megan Mullally, Cheryl Hines and, mostly likely, a number of marketers in the Mindshare stable. The brand integration powerhouse created the Webisodes and will co-produce the series with ABC.
  So, the pump may be primed for "My Manny," a microseries launching Wednesday on TBS and TBS.com with star-car exposure for GM's new 2009 Chevy Traverse Crossover. The two-minute shorts will air during Tyler Perry's House of Payne, one of the top-rated shows among African American viewers. Payne, already a proven hitmaker with its successful Meet the Browns spin-off, could serve as a percolator for a full-length series—with Chevy, and potentially other brands, along for the ride.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley


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