By no means is Philips the first company to turn to web video as a means for spreading their brand, but the “online sitcom” Nigel and Victoria, launching internationally today, does bring a big burst of meta with it.
The fauxmentary-styled series focuses on Nigel, a British executive with a crush on Victoria, the Dutch actress starring in his company’s new line of commercials. What is Victoria advertising? Surprise! She’s shilling Philips products, and Nigel, in his role as Philip’s marketing manager, is on set monitoring (and interfering with) the advertising — making the product integration seamless and painfully obvious at the same time.
Victoria is played by Dutch actress Victoria Koblenko, ostensibly playing herself, while Nigel is played by British comedian Ben Willbond. While the pair don’t have a lot of chemistry, their interactions have an improvised nature that comes across as fairly natural and real. Victoria (the character) will be Twittering away as @victoriareviews, while the pair are both accessible on Facebook as well.
Alas, while the production looks great and the social networking is engaged, that doesn’t make the content funny; the humor is so deadpan that it just comes off as bland and lifeless. While I was initially intrigued by the premise of an “unromantic comedy” (as the show is described on YouTube), that seems to boil down to “Nigel acts like a prat and Victoria hates him as a result.” Granted, that’s after watching only three of the eight episodes Ostensibly, things will improve for the pair going forward, but that still didn’t give me much incentive to continue watching.
All that said, I have a confession to make: I really want the Philips laptop cushion/speaker system plugged in the first episode. Oh, and the waterproof headphones advertised in the second episode. Curse you, branded content! Your tricks have worked once again.
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