Bringing back webisodes

USA Today takes a look at some company's who are going back to webisodes to advertise.

Remember webisodes? Original minishows for the Internet were all the rage online before the Internet bubble burst in 2001. Now they're back, this time as advertising vehicles, courtesy of a robust online ad market and growing broadband audience.

EHealthInsurance's Am I Covered? (amicovered.com) made its debut last week. Today, Jeep's We Are The Mudds (wearethemudds.com) series premieres, joining other recent webisodes from Unilever's I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (tasteyoulove.com) and Target (oddsagainst7even.com.)

It was the popularity of blogs — web diaries — that motivated Jeep to give webisodes a try.

"We have been intrigued by the overpromise and under-delivery of blogs," says Jeff Bell, vice president of Chrysler's Jeep division. "Everybody's talking about them, but no one can show that blogs help sell products."

With ad agency Organic, Jeep came up with a campaign that showcases a fictional live-action family who are quite dirty — they're covered in mud. The biweekly Web shows feature the family vacationing with their new 2006 Jeep Commander. There are also games and a blog by the teen daughter.

"Webisodes have taken a different form now," says Organic's chief creative officer, Colleen DeCourcy. "They're no longer just content on the Internet, but a more sophisticated form of social networking: extended interaction and consumer participation."

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