A mean giant hamster that was a popular character in a World Cup ad campaign last year is getting his own short sitcom called "El Spooky Show," created by U.S. Hispanic agency La Comunidad.
Starting Friday, five-minute webisodes will run twice weekly on Viacom's Hispanic youth channel MTV Tr3s in the U.S. and the recently launched Comedy Central in Latin America.
Spooky debuted in a hilarious international campaign for MTV that highlighted the obsessive behavior of fans watching the month-long World Cup on TV last year, with the tagline, "We understand why you aren't watching MTV ." In one spot, a giant hamster attacks his disheveled owner with a chainshaw and berates him for forgetting to feed him for weeks during a World Cup-watching binge. Spooky demands a pizza be delivered to his tiny cage immediately.
"It happened spontaneously," said Jose Molla, founder and creative director of Miami-based La Comunidad, MTV 's long-time international ad agency. "After the World Cup campaign stopped running, Latin kids started Facebook profiles and blogs under the name Spooky. We saw all this online activity from kids pretending to be Spooky. We got together with MTV and said we have something on our hands that could be bigger than an advertising campaign."
La Comunidad-Summer, a content division of La Comunidad, wrote and directed 12 five-minute Spanish-language episodes (in the U.S., subtitles will be added to the Tr3s version at www.tr3s.com).
In one episode of "El Spooky Show," Spooky's hapless owner and roommate Yogu returns home to find Spooky has ordered a ninja online, and the ninja has taken over the apartment. In another episode, the snarky hamster hypnotizes Yogu and wreaks havoc.
"What's really cool about this is it's an advertising character that 's become content, and for us it also becomes a business opportunity," Mr. Molla said. "We're participating in rights and merchandising opportunities for Spooky."
MTV is doing promos for "El Spooky Show" and Mr. Molla will be speaking at some MTV and industry gatherings about the character, although he is somewhat handicapped by not being able to have Spooky appear with him.
"I wanted to bring Spooky but it's complicated to move not only the costume but also all the electronic equipment, especially from one country to another," he said. A real person is inside the giant hamster suit, but parts of Spooky's body, including his facial expressions, are controlled electronically by a second person.
So Mr. Molla says Spooky is vacationing in Buenos Aires, where La Comunidad has its other office and "El Spooky Show" is shot.