Execution: Web-Based Video Series
Target: Bored Middle Income Car Buyers
Reviewer: David Vinjamuri
A full-blown sitcom broadcast on the MSN entertainment network on the Web, Mr. Robinson’s Driving Academy is a creation of Volvo Cars North America, a business unit of the Ford Motor Company. The series follows the adventure of the hapless owner of a small driving school who is drafted into a competition with his slimy cross-town rival to win the job of the boss of the retiring driving mega-school. Craig Robinson brings a new Volvo C30 to the competition. As of this date 8 mini-episodes have been posted on the website.
This format – short, serial webisodes which are essentially branded entertainment – shows a great deal of promise. This advertising blog was impressed with Brawny Academy, an online reality show miniseries created by Fallon. If the entertainment value is there, consumers will engage with online video more fully than they will with television ads.
Indeed, we would like to see more advertisers creating their own web-based entertainment. The sitcom is not dead, merely hybernating as the popularity of reruns from the past decades has proven. As TV has turned to drama, sci fi and reality shows, the opporunity for web-based sitcoms grows.
Unfortunately, Mr. Robinson’s Driving Academy doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for successful entertainment. This thinly acted, poorly plotted series would never have reached pilot stage if it had been destined for network or cable television rather than the Internet. Volvo makes the mistake of applying a lower standard to online fare than it would expect in tradional media. In reality, Mr. Robinson’s Driving Academy must compete with regular television shows if it is to lure consumers to MSN regularly. The Volvo integration is also not ideal. Although the car is introduced with some good-natured self mockery, it is just too contrived.
Branding Bottom Line:
Mr. Robinson’s Driving Academy is the Pinto of branded entertainment.