Less than a month after Big Fat Institute aired it’s sweet, Dane Cook-cameo-filled You Suck at Photoshop season (hopefully not series) finale, Troy Hitch and Matt Bledsoe have partnered with Adobe and My Damn Channel to bring the internet a much needed parody of super-cool ad men and their ultra-hip places of employment – Agency of Record.
Here’s the premise: Dave and Rick are aging creatives (who are nothing like Don Draper). They’re basically your over-the-hill, embarrassing uncles who try way to hard too look like they still hang out with the ambivalently popular crowd at RISD.
They work at an advertising agency called WTF Worldwide, (which is nothing like Sterling Cooper – sorry, my only exposure to ad agencies is through Mad Men), and have a boss that holds virtual meetings in Second Life.
Sierra’s the new girl. She’s your aunt who’s more mature than anyone else in the family (like Peggy!). For the purpose of her career and emotional stability, she tries to set Dave and Rick straight.
Inane office hi-jinks, Adobe product name drops, and traditional print campaigns for Brawndo-like brands ensue:
It looks pretty, and I think if I didn’t know that the series was sponsored by Adobe I could almost not recognize the shill, but I wish there was less Sierra and more Dave and Rick.
Sierra’s inner monologue drives the first episode, but all we want to see is more competitive interactions and unexpected zingers from the duo that brought us one of the most enjoyable web series to date. Hopefully there will be more of that in episode 2.
I recently talked with Troy Hitch about the show. We discussed how he got hooked up with Adobe, what extra-video components we should expect from this series, and the meaning of WTF:
Tilzy.TV: What’s Agency of Record about?
Troy Hitch: It’s about the creative department of global advertising agency called WTF WorldWide and the central characters are two idiot associate creative directors named Dave and Rick who are reaching middle age in both real life and also their careers. They’re losing relevance, they’re losing the spark of what got them there in the first place, which was their creative spirit – the need to express themselves.
They’re seen through the eyes of a young designer named Sierra who has not been jaded by the ad world yet. She thinks its her mission to save Dave and Rick from their ultimate creative doom, because if she can’t save them and prove that people can live on past 40 as creatives, then she has no business even being on this career path. Their boss Bernie is even 15 years further down the line from where these guys are. He’s all about the money now with clients and everything. And he’s so disconnected that he’s never in the office and requires them to login to a virtual conference room to have their meetings.
So, there’s lots of inanity with the way their department works and it leads to lots of laughs.
Tilzy.TV: What’s the “WTF” in WTF Worldwide stand for?
Troy: We leave that up to the imagination of the viewer.
Tilzy.TV: Is this an autobiographical story?
Troy: We are extremely in tune with this story. We are Dave and Rick.
Matt and I are both edging into 40. Before we started Big Fat Brain, thankfully we were able to take the Red Pill and go see the truth about the Matrix or whatever that is. We took the right path. And Dave and Rick have that chance. They have the chance to take the right path and be creative or take the wrong path and sell out at some ad agency but lose touch with their creative integrity.
Tilzy.TV: What are you most jazzed about in the series?
Troy: We learned a lot with You Suck at Photoshop and how were able to develop an audience that was wiling to participate in the story and be part of Donnie’s universe. So, drawing from that experience, we’re doing the same sort of thing with Agency of Record.
We’re extending the experience to www.DaveandRick.com that Sierra has set up in hopes of drawing people to help her keep Dave and Rick in their careers by participating in super creative challenges. And just like we did with Donnie, there will be a lot of community elements on this site where people can start to engage and connect with each other. We’re going to let the community decide what are the best concepts submitted and they’re going to make it into subsequent episodes.
Tilzy.TV: How many episodes will there be?
Troy: 5 episodes. And there are two sort of primary supplemental videos. One is of Dave and Rick in a pitch that went bad to a client on a conference call. And then we have a parody of Adobe’s agency profile videos that they have up on Adobe.tv. And then Sierra’s Dave and Rick site is going to have lots of videos on it as well.
Tilzy.TV: Adobe was cool with you poking fun at them?
Troy: Adobe has been incredibly cool. I mean so much so that we have to pinch ourselves every time we come in here. They have given us absolutely unrestricted creative freedom to make this the best we can make it. I mean they’ve been completely hands off.
They know that because we come from this world we’re going to have a respectful insight into everything, but there’s nobody that you can make fun of more than douchebag creative directors, so we lay into them pretty hard.
Tilzy.TV: How’d Adobe find you? Someone saw YSAP and you got a call?
Troy: Actually, it was the one and only time Big Fat Brain was really proactive about going after somebody. After we started getting success at YSAP at around episode 4 or 5 I had seen Adobe evangelist for Photoshop John Nack had mentioned us on his blog and I contacted him and he was very generous and got us in touch with several people at Adobe.
We spoke to them for a couple of months just to find the right fit over there. And somewhere around early summer we were hooked up with the CS4 brand team, who were going to be rolling out the new version in October, so they thought it would be a great fit to have an original series to go along with it. The rest is history.
Tilzy.TV: Is Big Fat Brain still doing some of the stuff Dave and Rick do? Are you only doing content now?
Troy: We’re fully committed to doing content 100%. So our agency days as a “traditional multimedia agency” are done. We are seeking to work with companies like Adobe who want to engage their consumers in a more relevant and entertaining way.
We’re not calling it “branded content.” We’re not calling it “viral video marketing.” Though those are all components of what we’re doing. We’re calling ourselves a “web 2.0 film studio.” We create short films that can only be seen on the web because they require all the technology of the web to fully immerse the viewer.
Tilzy.TV: What immersive experiences can we expect from Agency of Record?
Troy: Well, the Facebook phenomena with Donnie was really fun while it lasted, but once the story element of a tool wears off we’re really seeking to do something new and fresh.
The eBay thing for us was one of the big thrills because eBay wasn’t even built to be a mechanisms for that kind of discourse with the audience. So that’s what we’re really trying to do – seek out new ways to kinda surprise people into being delighted by the story in a place where they’re not expecting it.
Check out Agency of Record on My Damn Channel.