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Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007 at 12:34 pm

In (Mild) Defense of Firebrand

By Robert Gorell
November 14th, 2007

The advertising-as-entertainment, “live” (but not really), model-hosted, YouTube-ish site Firebrand.com just launched its beta site, and it definitely could be worse — especially considering its ambitious value proposition. Basically, Firebrand’s counting on becoming a destination spot for entertaining commercials, and the only people who might tell them they’re wrong — at this early stage, anyway — are are those who remain at least part-time singers in the choir to which they’re preaching.

When I first heard of the site, I said it sounded like “the ad industry’s collective Wet 2.0 dream.” The beta seems to reflect that impression, with a heavy dose of racy* and/or funny and/or creative ads, most of which seem more suited to winning awards than selling product. But there are exceptions, and it is nice to see a venue for (at least some of the) commercials that exceed 30 seconds. And since the US lives inside its own media bubble, it’s good to see a new venue for international commercials like this one from the Barcelona City Council:

Sure, they probably weren’t thinking of someone like me when they made the ad, but suffice it to say, there’s now an even slimmer chance you’ll ever find me double-parked in Barcelona.

Then there are funny and memorable ads like this one for Skittles:

There’s also a bit of irony here for brands who’ve tried to push their own ads on specialty micro-sites; brands like Budweiser, which spent G-d-knows-what creating Bud.tv, only to have me see this ad for the first time on Firebrand instead:

If GrokDotCom was the first place you saw this ad, that could mean one of at least two things:

  1. Firebrand could be a success as a destination spot for branded content.
  2. Bud.tv shouldn’t make people register and log in, and then not allow bloggers to embed the video (something I’m presuming because I refuse to register for the site).

Here’s the Firebrand “Manifesto”:

We love commercials. We submit, with rare exception, that they’re the best stuff on TV. In under a minute you get the best directors, the sickest special effects, the funniest writers—what’s not to love?

We love commercials. 1984. Mean Joe Green. Whasssup? You know you love them, too. So let’s gather ‘round the best of them. Sort them. Judge them. Share them. Love them.

We love commercials. The eye candy. The laugh out louds. The did-you-just-see-thats. The most loved, the most emailed, the ones we still talk about today. Let every day be Super Bowl Monday.

Welcome to Firebrand.com. (The best stuff on TV, online. )

Seems a bit heavy if you don’t consider the ads to be the best thing about TV. But that’s pretty common. The seductions of overstated “About Us” copy when there’s no copy on the homepage (as if to say, “You must know who we are, right?”) are hard for most startups to resist. Since it’s a beta launch, I’ll reserve judgment for now. Still, they might want to run that through the We-We Monitor.

What do you think? Will Firebrand go the way of Bud.tv, or does it help to have all these commercials in one place?

[*The first commercial that was showing when I went to the site this morning was for Naturisme.fr, a French "naturist" site -- and no, I don't mean organic food in the literal sense -- which wasn't exactly work-safe by "violence good, nudity bad" American cultural standards.]

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Comments (2)

  1. I like the idea. What do you think about users also being able to create/publish their own versions of “live” ads?

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