Daytime soap operas were originally designed to market household goods to their largely female audiences. Kraft Canada’s new soap is no exception – only this time it’s been produced exclusively for the web, at a time when an increasing number of women are viewing television online. Slated for an eight episode run ending November 6, and released every Thursday, As the Cookie Crumbles is a deliciously campy take on the tired but true genre of daytime drama.
Set in the fictional Glamora County, the first two episodes take place at the Casa di Tea – billed by the narrator as “‘the local hangout for everyone that is anyone.” The characters are straight out of your favorite soap town – there’s local patriarch Ansel Hailstorm, his former-exotic-dancing wife Carmen, Chaz, a deadbeat musician, and everyone’s favorite waiter Cameron, who just can’t keep his shirt on. There’s also a few cops, and a whole host of additional players.
Kraft and the agencies behind the serial, Draft/FCB and MacLaren McCann (whose subsidiary Universal McCann had a hand in WIMO’s Coma), aren’t shy about the fact that their new soap is essentially an advertisement for their 150 year-old line of fancy biscuits, Peek Freans Lifestyle Collection. The characters seem to have no problem saying absurd things like “I’ll have some Peek Freans Lifestyle Selections Lime Cocunut Cookies” or “Can I get three Peek Freans Lifestyle Collection Blueberry Brown Sugar Cookies with Flax?”
But, oddly enough, the unapologetic commercialism doesn’t bother me – probably because it is so fully embraced. As a viewer, I know that As the Cookie Crumbles is a vehicle for advertising Peek Freans Lifestyle Selections cookies, but I don’t really seem to mind. This is soap satire and the commercialism just further hits the joke home.
The team at Kraft launched a standalone website for the series, asthecookiecrumbles.ca, and has also distributed the series on a variety of platforms like DailyMotion, Revver, Blip, Funny or Die, and iTunes – although YouTube is conspiciously missing from the list. They’re building in interactive elements, with MySpace pages for the show’s characters, as well as an opportunity for the audience to choose one of three possible endings for the series after the seventh episode. Kraft has also built up an extensive print campaign for the show, complete with direct mail cookies.
This isn’t the first time Kraft has experimented with new media as an advertising medium, and the concept of building an entire show around a food product isn’t new either – Unilever is in production on a fourth season of its show Spraychel, also modeled after a soap, with season names like “Sprays of Her Life” and “Sprays in the City.”
As the Cookie Crumbles is only in its second episode – but we’re excited to see how this soapy experiment plays out. Catch new episodes every Thursday at 3pm ET. “And so, like a tornado in a trailer park, this is As the Cookie Crumbles…”
Update: From series creator Cass Enright: “The series was solely developed by MacLaren Momentum, which is part of the Canadian office of MacLaren McCann, where I work. Draft/FCB developed the original creative line of “Cookies so good, you’ll have to find another way to be bad”, but did not work on the series. Also, the videos are in fact on YouTube, but perhaps not very well indexed.”