Just when you thought that it was safe to venture back into the World Wide Web, supermarket goliath and generally acknowledged source of all evil, Walmart, unleash a torrent of despair by launching a branded web series, called Get on the Shelf.
Ok so the headline is a little melodramatic. Ok, maybe I’ve written more than a few articles about branded content before. Ok, maybe it’s time I just accepted that corporations using web series as means to promote themselves was always going to happen, is currently happening with increasing frequency, and will continue to happen with all the energy of a yappie dog that has just discovered how tasty its tail looks. I can’t help it. When you become enraptured with something you love (such as I have with web series) it cannot help but be disheartening when the advertisers come trampling into your sanctuary and bang a product onto the table by your laptop. And then just stand there. Looking at it. LOOKING at it. And then LOOKING at you. And poking you. With a money sucking stick of doom.
Get on the Shelf has watched some TV recently and decided to go for a concept that essentially globs together elements from the Apprentice and Dragons’ Den. The show launched on September 24th and in the lead up entrepreneurs were able to submit their product ideas in order to stand a chance to be shortlisted for the opportunity to have that product sold at Wallmart.com, and potentially on the shelves of their physical stores.
Episodes will be released weekly for the next five weeks. Four finalists per episode will present their potential money makers to the viewing public and the subsequent viewer voting will determine which product makes it, leaving the others consigned to the great reduced item bin in the sky.
Although not in web series form, Walmart ran a similar competition last year and received upwards of 5,000 submissions. The winner was Humankind Water, a bottled water company which works hard to support clean drinking water initiatives in third world countries; a noble cause, and despite all my dripping sarcasm about Walmart itself, clearly a worthy winner of increased recognition and distribution.
Walmart wants what all advertisers are currently fighting hard to find a winning formula for: connecting with the target market of ‘Millennialls’, otherwise referred to as ‘Generation Y’. This technologically savvy peer group is apparently highly resistant to traditional forms of advertising and, increasingly, branded web series are being used as a sneaky way to get the message across; the softly softly approach through social media and interactive entertainment being more effective than posters of TV spots instinctively ignored.
Get on the Shelf is a production of producer Mark Burnett’s digital studio Video In My Backyard (VIMBY), a company behind such other shows as Shark Tank and American Idol.
Coming soon, a review of something worthy of critical and creative comment.