HP Goes Back to School With Web Show

Hewlett-Packard is taking a page from MTV’s Pimp My Ride with a back-to-school Web video series.

In “Dorm Storm,” students at five colleges have their cramped college rooms outfitted with the latest computers, flat-screen TVs and gadgets — all from HP, naturally. The five-episode Web series, which debuts on Monday, is the result of a partnership the electronics maker struck with online video producer and distributor Broadband Enterprises.

The show is modeled on Broadband Enterprises’ “Cube Fabulous,” a workplace makeover show that ran from 2006-07. In each episode, students are chosen for dream dorm rooms tied to specific college persona, such as gamer, frat guy or designer. The shows, hosted by model Sena Khoda, will feature more than a dozen products. Plans call for a companion display ad to feature the product shown in the video.

The effort is part of HP’s drive to find inventive ways of reaching the youth market, said Kerry Chrapliwy, senior manager of global initiatives. Earlier efforts include a deal with Viacom for the creation of “Meet or Delete,” a college dating show on MTV and online channels. HP and MTV also ran a laptop design contest that attracted more than 8,500 submissions.

“You never know what catches with this audience,” he said. “We have to keep trying new things and new opportunities.”

HP spokesman and snowboarder Shaun White introduces each episode with a sponsor message from the company. White makes an appearance in the last episode of “Dorm Storm.” The episodes will include hotspotting technology that will allow users to click on products in the videos for more information.

Broadband Enterprises will distribute the shows, which last three to five minutes, each week until Sept. 1. The programs also will be available at hp.com. Thanks to Broadband Enterprises’ distribution network, “Dorm Storm” is promised at least 20 million views, said Danny Fishman, president at Broadband Enterprises.

“We’ve learned a lot in the three-and-a-half years we’ve been in the syndication business,” said Fishman. “The idea is that’s the minimum guarantee and then we allow a show like this to take off on its own.”

Too often, Fishman said, brands trying their hand at original content concentrate on the production while neglecting the distribution piece. This “if we build it, they will come” mind-set fails more often than not, he said.

“There are so many vendors selling original programming,” he said. “One of those key components is guaranteed distribution, because otherwise it sits on the shelf.”

While “Dorm Storm” will end in September, it will be revived in time for the key holiday season, said Fishman. The advantage of Web series is the flexibility to time them for business periods, he said.