Microsoft on Thursday (April 23) presented a handful of new online series concepts to a gathering of media buyers on hand for the company’s second annual digital showcase event at Le Parker Meridien Hotel in New York, as the company’s sales executives looked to send a clear message that Web video is core to the software giant’s ongoing media strategy.
“We’ve made an investment in premium content centered around video,” said Rick Song, senior director, Eastern U.S. sales, Microsoft Advertising. Between branded entertainment vehicles and original series, Song boasted that Microsoft had already produced 50 original Web series.
In the works for this year are several comedy series concepts, including Foley Guys, which will star The Office’s Rainn Wilson. That show, which Wilson will produce, depicts a group of friends who head to Hollywood looking to fulfill their dream of becoming foley artists—i.e., the sound effects experts found on film crews.
Another project Microsoft is pitching is an untitled office comedy, starring Dave Foley (News Radio, The Kids in the Hall) and Amy Davidson (8 Simple Rules . . . ), both of whom were on hand at the showcase. That series has been deliberately left without a title, as Microsoft is looking to entice a potential advertiser with its naming rights. In fact, the Foley/Davidson vehicle is almost entirely conceptual at this point, as Microsoft plans to let whatever advertiser that comes on board guide the direction, storylines and format of the show, based on that brand’s target audience.
Microsoft also is hoping to attract advertisers to Cinemash, another series built around a deliberately malleable concept. The idea behind that show is to feature comedic stars acting out favorite, and unlikely, movie roles. For example, Will Arnett (Arrested Development) would display his acting chops by playing the lead role in the horror classic Carrie.
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