The TV spot features the real-life Brawny Man who announces the formation of the “Brawny Academy” where eight women will send the men in their lives for sensitivity training. While announcing this, the Brawny Man chops wood, bottle feeds an injured bird, cleans up messes and makes meals. The website streams episodes of “Brawny Academy” (at press time, only the first episode was available) which is a reality web video series that streams from the Brawny Academy website. It features eight average-Joe-unreconstructed-males with a variety of normal male disorders from sloppiness to couch potatoe indifference to preening self-importance. The Brawny men puts these Joes through their paces to attempt to instill some sense and sensitivity into them.
The pace at which web video is catching up with television is staggering and this spot gives us a good window into what is to come. Instead of using a network ad buy to simply build the Brawny brand or engage the consumer, Fallon Worldwide and Georgia Pacific reap a double benefit. For the average consumer, this spot functions effectively as advertising. It has good branding, a product demo and a tangible incarnation of the brand character.
For avid Brawny lovers and the merely curious, however, Fallon takes the next step. Just a year ago, the thought of fully producing a reality show and running it only online would have sounded outlandish. The idea that an advertiser might creating hours of video content would have been similarly absurd. Now it is becoming routine. The Brawny Academy is another important stage in the creation of a new world where content and advertising will undergo many new formulations – both sensible and unholy – before it finds its own level and some new order emerges. The Brawny Academy is very different from other significant recent efforts like Amazon Fishbowl (the online talk show, reviewed here) and Snickers Instant Def (a partially animated dramatic web-serial, reviewed here).
It is difficult to rate Brawny Academy as content because, frankly, reviewing dramatic content is not this advertising blog’s speciality. Brawny Academy strikes us as a bit silly, but then so does The Apprentice. The premise is not terrible, however, and real drama may emerge. More important than the execution in this case is Brawny’s willingness to take a step into the unknown and attempt to forge closer ties to its audience in an emerging medium. For the money, we do find the television spot and web video less alarming than first stalker-like incarnations of the Brawny Man online.
The key issue here is whether Brawny (with the help of parent Georgia Pacific and agency Fallon Worldwide) is really producing desirable content. Doing this with a single brand parent is tricky and may not function as well in the 2000′s as it did with Texaco Theater in the 1950′s. Fortunately, reality television has low production costs and the Internet allows for low distribution costs, so Brawny can afford to experiment. Our sense is that brands attempting to produce original video content for the Internet need to hit the same quality standards as cable networks in order to retain viewers. Executions that are either cheesy or too crassly commercial will end up hurting the brands which sponsor them.
Branding Bottom Line:
Please don’t tell our wives about that Brawny Academy.