'Agency of Record' Sets Bar for Web Series Product Integration

By 11/25/2008
'Agency of Record' Sets Bar for Web Series Product Integration

You Suck at Photoshop creators Matt Bledsoe and Troy Hitch have struck gold a second time with the launch of their newest series, Agency of Record, released on My Damn Channel and sponsored by Adobe. The series, which launched November 21st, stars Bledsoe and Agency of Record Hitch, themselves veterans of the advertising world, in the roles of Dave and Rick, farcical caricatures of agency ACDs (Associate Creative Directors for those not in the know) who lead their team to near disaster in the show’s first episode. Chock-full of industry jargon, and co-starring comedian Briana Hansen in the role of starry-eyed interactive designer Sierra, Agency of Record plays up the ludicrous stereotypes associated with the cadre of characters that inhabit the hallowed halls of your typical agency.

While the show pays homage to industry luminary David Olgivy through the guise of WTF Worldwide‘s Bernie Olglethorpe, a ridiculously out-of-touch boss who holds meetings in Second Life and enforces impossible deadlines (twenty concepts for a creative campaign by tomorrow morning!), it also pays him the ultimate compliment by heeding his best advice word-for-word: “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.” And that is precisely what Bledsoe and Hitch have done. 

Creative from Agency of Record's WTF WorldwideAgency of Record is sponsored entirely by software-industry heavyweight Adobe, but the sponsorship doesn’t come in the form of huge display banners, or the Adobe logo popping up in pre or post-roll ads. Instead, the team at Big Fat Brain have integrated Adobe’s software directly into the day-to-day grind at WTF Worldwide headquarters: The first episode boldly opens with Rick and Dave catfighting over boxes of the newly arrived CS4 (Creative Suite 4). This of course because the show’s creators are working directly with Adobe’s Creative Suite Team—which begs the question: was the series supposed to launch last month, to coincide with CS4’s October 15 release date?

Either way, the particular style of contextual advertising employed in Agency of Record, which pairs content directly with brands, is not only unintrusive (if done well), but in this case has the double effect of reinforcing Adobe’s dominant position in the creative software market by showcasing its products at use in their native environment. 

The integration goes a step further by engaging the show’s audience to interact directly with the DaveAndRicks.com from Agency of Recordcharacters, and Adobe’s software, via the DaveandRick.com website, which features CS4 specific tips and tricks as well as an invitation to submit creative in reaction to briefs from WTFWorldwide’s own clients.

The show, produced by Amy Austin, is slated to run for 5 episodes, but as Hitch let on, will also include additional video content released on DaveandRick.com as well as parody videos mirroring content from Adobe.tv’s Agency Profiles channel. I have a haunch that if David Ogilvy were still with us, he’d be impressed with what Bledsoe and Hitch have created. But the question remains: will the show be able to maintain the delicate balance of advertising while entertaining?