Kraft Mines for Comedy Cred with Tassimo Webisodes

Hoping to generate awareness and interest in its Tassimo hot beverage system, Kraft has partnered with Ogilvy Entertainment to create a series of humorous, interactive “Webisodes” featuring actors from NewYork’s “The Upright Citizens Brigade” comedy troupe.

The videos focus on the goofy antics of an oddball named “Bob,” who is supposed to be a coffee addict and the type of guy who finds a thousand things to do at work besides doing work. The first two Webisodes in the “Who Hired Bob?” series are already on the site. Interactivity comes in the form of giving viewers the opportunity to pick different endings to the zany episodes. They’re also being asked to think about any “Bob-like” people at their own places of work and submit stories. The best stories will become new “Bobisodes.”

Joseph Frydl, director of the Ogilvy Branded Content and Entertainment Group, said the campaign “really began as part of an innovation effort at Kraft.” He said the company wanted to try forms of advertising that differed from those it customarily uses.

“They set aside a fund which had the purpose of experimenting with new and different forms of marketing,” said Frydl. “It was in that context that we began working with them on this. Our idea, basically, was to try to prove that original, entertaining content can really change the marketing equation to the benefit of both the brand and the audience.”

He said entertaining people tends to be a great way to get their “permission” to send some marketing their way. Each segment’s plot somehow involves the Tassimo system. In the first episode, Bob is seen ripping out his office’s old coffee maker in a misguided quest to replace it with a Tassimo.

When people are entertained, “the entertainment enhances the brand imagery and at the same time engages the audience in a way that beating them over the head [with advertising] cannot,” said Frydl.

Given that Tassimo beverage systems have somewhat of an upscale, refined image, the Who Hired Bob campaign needed to avoid being mere slapstick, said Frydl. “It needed to be smart,” he said. “There’s a real wit to the writing, which I feel is very much in keeping with the brand.”

He gave kudos to comedy writer-producer Jim Biederman, an Upright Citizens Brigade veteran who created “Kids in the Hall” and “Whitest Kids U Know.” Biederman partnered with Ogilvy for the campaign. “Jim has years and years of great comedy experience,” said Frydl. “He’s aces in the business.”

To publicize the campaign, Ogilvy created a :30 trailer for the Google AdSense network. A video player ad “that doesn’t look like an ad,” is also being placed on targeted sites including the Wall Street Journal. Additionally, emails touting the Who Hired Bob? Site are being sent to people on Kraft’s mailing list, with requests to share the information with friends. The trailer is being posted on various free video sharing sites including Heavy.com, Funny or Die, YouTube and Revvers, said Frydl. He said there are no plans to launch a coordinated print campaign.

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