Brands are starting to get all gooey when you mention an interactive web series to them, and one of the more ‘progressive’ brands to play in the online video sandbox, AXE, decided to throw their hat at this latest trend on YouTube. That meant teaming up with arguably the godfathers of the YouTube interactive video format—Chad, Matt & Rob—who have been experimenting with a choose-your-own-adventure style ever since YouTube rolled out its in-video annotations technology back in 2008.
The latest project, The Teleporter (below), marks the first time a major brand sponsor has backed one of their highly popular interactive adventures. For Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Rob Polonsky, the young creators seem to have found their sweet spot in online video, having recently teamed up with TV production studio Fremantle Media for their forthcoming western, The Treasure Hunt.
After a string of million-view interactives like The Birthday Party and The Time Machine, AXE approached the guys back in May about doing a branded project. Naturally, the creators were cautious about selling out their audience in a cheap fashion. “We’ve always been really weary on doing any sort of brand integration,” said Polonsky. “Viewers are always super sensitive when there’s any sort of product placement involved. The last thing we wanted to do was to insult our audience. So we wrote something that we would want to make.”
Luckily, Polonsky says that “AXE has been great to work with.” They realized the importance of keeping the integration at a minimum. They pitched it to us as “a Chad, Matt & Rob adventure with a ‘hint’ of AXE”.
After soft launching the series last week, the three mini-adventures have racked up over 200,000 views so far. But starting this week AXE will be doing a significant paid media push to drive more viewers to check out the series. This is akin to the major push behind the brand Clean Your Balls web series last year.
Mark your calendars—Chad, Matt & Rob will be part of our panel at SXSW Interactive conference this March in Austin as we take a somewhat geeky look behind the curtain of how these decision tree stories actually get made.