NEW YORK Digital agencies often say they don’t want to become like traditional shops, but that doesn’t stop them from jumping at the chance to do TV work.
Razorfish, the Microsoft-owned digital agency, kicked off a TV and Web promotion for All detergent that began last night during Celebrity Apprentice. A 30-second spot directed viewers to all-laundry.com to see a pair of Internet videos Razorfish created with Celebrity Apprentice contestants Joan and Melissa Rivers. It marks the first time the 14-year-old digital agency has created a TV commercial for national broadcast.
The spot and Web videos, promoting All Small and Mighty concentrated detergent, are a tie-in with the brand-friendly Apprentice franchise. All was written into the script of the episode airing Sunday. Contestants were challenged to create a viral video for All. In a commercial at the close of the episode, the Riverses note the stress of the episode and invite viewers to visit All’s Web site to see “Rivers & Rivers: The Video Encore.”
The work is more evidence that the lines between digital and traditional shops are blurring. Just as traditional agencies are expanding their digital capabilities, interactive shops that until a few years ago mostly built Web sites and banners are muscling into turf that was formerly the preserve of general agencies. Digital video is a key battleground. Traditional shops have laid claim to it as their preserve while digital specialists like AKQA, R/GA and Razorfish create much of it themselves.
“Razorfish has a history in digital media and developing Web sites,” said Marc Lucas, executive creative director for Razorfish in New York. “In the last 12 to 18 months, we’ve made a push to be a marketing services company and being more media agnostic.”
The All Web videos are one of the shop’s most ambitious forays into brand narrative. In late 2007, it rolled out a Web video series called “The Harry Situation” for Granier Fructis. It also has done video vignettes for Coors Light.
In one All video, Melissa Rivers stars as a “laundry fairy” in a tongue-in-cheek story about a group of fairies that enter homes to help with dirty laundry. It features All Small and Mighty and runs five-and-a-half minutes. “Fairy small. Mighty clean” is the concluding tagline.
The other video has Joan Rivers as an over-the-top host of a campy on-the-street game show, “Guess That Stain,” with a bubblehead model sidekick. It runs four-and-a-half minutes and closes with the tag “The little bottle with all the answers.”
“We wanted to use the equity of Joan and Melissa as these offbeat entertainers,” said Mike Nuzzo, associate creative director at Razorfish.
Razorfish is using an emerging tactic in the social Web to goose distribution: it’s offering donations to charity in return for sharing the content. This approach has been taken previously. Kraft donated meals to charity in return for Facebook users inviting their friends to install it.
Pedigree gave money to an animal shelter based on the number of online views of its Super Bowl commercial. The gambit fits with the Apprentice construct of awarding a winning team with a donation to the charity of its choice.
Bartle Bogle Hegarty is All’s general agency. The brand recently put its advertising account into review. BBH is not defending.
Kevin Keating, marketing director at All, said the brand typically looked at its roster of shops and chose the agency best suited for the task to lead.
“They were the right partner because they had the capabilities,” he said. “With the lines blurred, it’s a different approach.”
Digital agencies will have an easier time adjusting to narrative work than traditional agencies trying to add interactive capabilities, predicted Lucas, who was a creative director at SS+K for three years. When digital becomes the center of campaigns, it will be much easier for digital specialists to add the skills needed to promote those experiences in other media.
“Digital agencies haven’t stepped up and become full-service communications offerings,” he said. “I think the time is right.”