Blast recently chatted with Michael Wallen, the vice president and creative director of Fox Mobile Studios, about one of their newest mobile series, “Brainstorm.”
The portable Internet series has already logged about 1.7 million viewers for the eight episodes available (with six pieces of viral content used to promote the series with marketing partner Altoids).
Comedy Central’s “Secret Girlfriend,” which began as a mobile series, shares actor Michael Blaiklock wth “Brainstorm,” where he plays Marty Waxer, a copywriter who is defined as “always stuck in a haze between last night’s party and his morning coffee.”
Between Marty’s procrastination and lack of seriousness, and the new marketing genius in the office, named Rock, an advertising conundrum ensues.
BLAST: First, we’d like to get a feel for how you decided to go with a mobile series, and how that benefits the audience. How are mobile series becoming more popular for audiences?
MICHAEL WALLEN: We really wanted to create a series-not just a mobile series-but a great short form series. We really thought of all cross platform ideas, and we did take into consideration stream size, viewing habits, and technical considerations, so that when somebody did view it (as a mobile series), it would be as a pleasant experience. We wanted to up the value of mobile content by delivering an entertaining series on that platform.
BLAST: How was the idea for Brainstorm started?
MW: It started with the idea of how do we get our skin in the game on the brand integration side of the business and create an organic concept that enables this brand integration without being intrusive to the viewer … organic and upfront. Transparent with the integration. So a show about advertising seemed to make a lot of sense and also poke fun of the brand, and tell a story at the same time. How do we fit a brand into a piece of entertainment? (The idea) was certainly influenced by what was happening in the economy, we thought we could make it relevant because (of smaller agencies struggling) it would resonate with viewers and also be a platform for comedy. Maybe some relief if you will.
BLAST: Was it fun to incorporate Altoids as a brand partner?
MW: Yeah, it was great. They were a fantastic partner. They got the jokes, they got the concepts, they recognized that in order to ..they had to play ball and let their brand be the center of some of the jokes. I commend them for doing that. A lot of brands will (say that they will) do that but will start to pull back. Altoids pushed us further, it was a wonderful partnership
BLAST: Were characters such as Marty and Rock inspired by real life office extremes, or solely developed for the purpose of the plot?
MW: Without blowing anyone’s cover, I’ve worked with every single one of those guys at some point in my career. I think the guru, Rock type is prevalent in the advertising field. These ‘everything turns to gold’ ad whizzes are either lucky or leaned on talented people to get where they are. There are millions of examples in every work environment, not just advertising. Advertising is such an interesting environment and breeds so many types of egos. The lead character was kind of your advertising every man. That’s definitely there in the agencies and the Marty character, but i think we try to capture characteristics of employees all over the world, someone everyone can relate to.
BLAST: Was the series influenced by any workplace sitcoms?
MW: Not directly, just that it’s there. There have been a lot of these office sitcoms, so there is a lot to draw on or draw away from. What’s different (is that) we tried to solve a business problem with a brand while also telling a story. Other shows are doing that — 30 Rock with Snapple. It’s just ‘how can you make advertising entertaining and enjoyable at the same time’?
“Brainstorm” is available on various online and mobile destinations, including MySpace, Yahoo! Video, YouTube, Veoh, blip.tv, Break, eBaum’s World, Howcast, Imeem, Metacafe, Sevenload, StupidVideos.com, Viddler, Vimeo, and most mobile phone networks.