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Branded Entertainment: Insurance sales & Randy Plumbers

September 17, 2009


Professor Plumber, in the office, with a wrench

Professor Plumber, in the office, with a wrench

From Adweek:

NBCU, American Family Roll Out Brand Series

Sept 15, 2009

NEW YORK NBC Universal has rolled out its latest stab at branded entertainment with a series that revolves around an understanding American Family Insurance agent.

The brand, along with Mindshare Entertainment, worked with NBCU Digital Studio to develop the series, “In Gayle We Trust.” The short-form vehicle marks American Family’s first stab at branded entertainment.

NBCU and Mindshare enlisted top-flight talent. Brent Forrester, a writer from The Office, penned “In Gayle We Trust.” The series stars Elisa Donovan — who appeared in Clueless and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch — as Gayle Evans, an insurance agent who serves as the de facto life coach for a town of quirky characters.

At NBCU, “top flight talent” is industry-speak for fresh off the WHO DAT? pile. A.D. Yancy apparently believes that her agents are ready stay on message while dodging come-ons from mustachioed plumbers:

The vignettes are often set in Gayle’s American Family office and touch on insurance topics. In “Gayle and the Plumber,” for example, she rebuffs the awkward advances of a plumber while pointing out that American Family provides identity-theft insurance.

Cameron Death, vice president, NBCU Digital Studio, said two more projects are slated for release over the next several months…

“We’re not putting digital content out and praying we can monetize it,” he said.

Mr. Death (!) has already monetized the content for NBCU by having AMF pay the bill. But the power of prayer may be needed to show the benefit to the insurance agents on the street. As campaigns go, it’s a tough sales meeting when you are told to hit the bricks armed with a benefits folder and a link to a branded webisode.

The AMF campaign microsite continues the disturbing marketing trend of incredibly wack flash games. There’s a driving game with “road cones” and a top speed of 45MPH instead of turbo buttons or sweet jumps. There’s a map game –ready to review your coverage yet?- that implores you to “Explore Maple Grove, filled with colorful characters…Find hot spots and unlock a hidden object related to a featured character specific to the week’s highlighted episode every Tuesday”

This week’s episode features a sexual harassment plumber, who we’ll assume is lurking in a virtual public bathroom somewhere in Maple Grove. Click to see his ‘hidden object’ if you are in to that kind of thing.

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