Producing good branded entertainment content is tough. Producing branded entertaiment that young male gamer types will watch—good luck. But what if you just make your brand a character in a Web series, in a way that totally makes sense?
That’s what Dodge is aiming for as the official presenting sponsor of Video Game High School 2, the upcoming second season of the underground video hit. As part of that sponsorship, the new Dodge Dart will be featured prominently in the second season of VGHS, a show set in a future when video gamers have become the new sports jocks.
In season 2, which will go live this summer in time for Comic-Con, the character "Ted the Drift King" will be shown driving a Dart in his classes and competition (drifting is apparently a type of racing popular in Japan and among Fast and Furious lovers).
“Dodge is going to figure prominently in several episodes, and it totally make sense with the character and storyline,” said Alex Angeledes, chief revenue officer at Collective Digital Studio, which helps distribute and sell Video Game High School on channels like YouTube, Metacafe and Rocketjump.com. “You can’t hit this audience over the head with marketing, but with this storyline you don’t have to. The folks at Dodge were very willing to turn over their brand to the creative team.”
The creative team behind VGHS may not be known Hollywood entities, but they’ve built a significant following in the 20-something, gaming-obsessed YouTube universe. The show is the brainchild of writer/director Matt Arnold, co-founder of RocketJump.com, as well as and Freddie Wong and Brandon Laatsch, the duo behind FreddieW—a dude-oriented YouTube phenomenon that has attracted 4.1 million subscribers while generating over 770 million views.
"FreddieW is viewed as such a credible personality in the YouTube space and has such a large, established following, therefore it made sense for Dodge to look at partnering with him on VGHS2," said Mark Malmstead, Dodge's brand manager of media, social media and CRM, who also credited the agency UM for helping steward the sponsorship. "One of the reasons that FreddieW has such a large following is because he shoots his videos in a way that is appealing to his audience. He has a very good understanding of branded content and how it can be incorporated into the script in a way that is impactful, without being gratuitous."
Malmstead continued: "The audience that watches the VGHS series aligns very well with one of the Dodge Dart key audiences, and the seamless integration allows the Dart to be showcased in a unique way that appeals to this younger audience. And since one of the integral plot lines calls for a car, it’s a natural fit, but there is a science to it. Nothing destroys product integration more than heavy-handedness or an unnatural fit into the storyline."