Purity Vodka, a small Swedish brand, teamed up with comedian Joel McHale for a series of online videos, the first of which debuted yesterday. McHale created and produced the videos with a team of his usual collaborators, including Ari Costa, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Brad Stevens and Boyd Vico.
McHale is best known for his work on The Soup for E! and his role on sitcom Community, which Yahoo Screen just picked up for a 13-episode season following NBC's cancellation. The fact that McHale's work for Purity Vodka will be hosted online via the brand's YouTube channel while Community heads to streaming is a coincidence, notes The New York Times, but McHale is already a veteran of online content from the YouTube clips he creates regularly for The Soup.
McHale and Purity Vodka initially agreed to three videos, but there's the possibility they could create more next year. The first video, uploaded yesterday, features McHale packing for a road trip before stealing a $500,000 truck. Running just over five minutes in length, McHale takes on such targets as NBC, branded videos, his family and himself.
The series is indicative of a trend in the alcoholic beverages category, and advertising in general, of incorporating comedians into campaigns. Jerry Seinfeld tried his hand at copywriting for a recent Acura campaign, and Newcastle's Fourth of July "If We Won" campaign featured Stephen Merchant. In the vodka category alone there was the recent Skyy vodka campaign with improv actor Paul Welsh and Smirnoff's long-form "The Party" video starring Adam Scott and Alison Brie. The recent trend of brands (those peddling alcoholic products in particular) turning to comedians in their advertising represents a shift in strategy that sees brands attempting to create humorous content people will share on social channels.
"If you want to get people to watch, it can’t smell like an ad; it has to be entertaining," Tom O’Keefe, chief executive of Chicago-based agency O'Keefe, Reinhard & Paul, told The New York Times.
"As a small brand, we did not want to go down the traditional advertising route," explained Andy Glaser, president and chief executive of Purity Vodka, so the brand decided instead to "look at the digital space and create content that, we hope, is compelling and engaging." Purity reportedly spent $1.5 million on the campaign, eclipsing the $1.1 million spent last year according to Kantar Media, a division of WPP.