Have you ever tried to get a coffee stain out of a cashmere sweater? It’s not easy. In fact, I’ve given up trying, and have instead decided to bill the replacement cost to the fine folks at Suave and Sprint. It’s all their fault. I was watching their original online webisode series, In The MotherHood. This isn’t just giggle-to-yourself funny. It’s laugh-out-loud, spit-coffee-all-over-your-sweater funny.
Lots of folks have predicted short-form webisodes could have a huge future on the Internet. But I haven’t found a whole lot of brands that have A) done it well, or B) found a way to make money from it. Then along comes InTheMotherHood.com, sponsored by Suave and Sprint. [One quick note to the sponsors: I know there's an MSN (aka Microsoft) tie-in, but nobody using Firefox, Safari or browsers other than Internet Explorer can view the content on the homepage, including the videos. You're missing a sizeable chunk of your audience.]
In The MotherHood is the first scripted Web series by moms, for moms and about moms. Conceived by Suave and Sprint, the story will be written in part by YOU, based on your funny, comical and no-holds-barred experiences of motherhood.
I love this concept for so many reasons. But before I explain, take a look…
How many moms have hilarious stories about their kids? Because of the heavy involvement of real moms, other moms see bits of themselves in these characters. They can relate to and bond with them. And moms can vote on their favorites. It’s a very interactive and collaborative effort that includes the audience rather than just talking at them.
The sponsors are building authenticity into the script. And best of all, the webisodes are really well done. I don’t know what the budget was for producing these, but I’m guessing it is a wee bit smaller than Desperate Houswives. In The MotherHood may not super-slick, but it does not come across as super low budget either.
The short format makes it easy to digest in-between other online activities. There are forums, discussion boards, articles, and more to engage visitors. And there are lots of chances for Suave and Sprint to advertise in this content. But there are also advertiser tie-ins that make sense. There’s a section where you can meet the cast. I liked the characters and wanted to know more about them. On each character’s page, they have a “playlist.” I checked out “Heather’s playlist” and was taken to the sprint website with a list of songs we’d expect to find on Heather’s mp3 player. You can even click on a song and download it as a ringtone! Sprint has obviously woken up and realized moms like to download customized ringtones, too.
Now, I realize not everyone has the time or budget to create webisodes of this caliber, but I’m telling you, this short-form online format is going to be a huge winner with time-starved women. Mothers are looking for a quick laugh; a way to connect, and a way to see parts of themselves and their lives reflected back to them in a positive and humorous manner. It’s so rare that you see this in advertising, or even on TV — and that’s why In The MotherHood is real treat.
The other takeaway from this project is how to find better ways to integrate advertisers or sponsors into your content. Sprint wanted to promote downloadable ringtones. But instead of starting with what they were interested in, they started with what women are interested in. Women are interested in the show. Women are interested in the relatable characters. They want to know more about the characters. They can click to meet the cast. They can click on the character’s playlist. They can see songs the characters enjoy. They can download those songs as ringtones on their own phones. Brilliant job.
Check it out. Great short videos, viral opportunities where you can send the video to a friend, and quality branded content that isn’t heavy-handed. InTheMotherHood is a real winner. Just have a bib ready.
[Editor's note: Anyone else find it offensive that Microsoft hasn't optimized InTheMotherHood.com for browsers it doesn't own? In order to find the video to share with you, we had to leave the website and go to a search engine, where we eventually found it on AOL, which was able to embed it on their own, iVillage-branded site thanks to YouTube, which is owned by Microsoft's competitor, Google. Thank you, Google.]