Ashton Kutcher Friends Video Series on Facebook

Actor Teams With App Maker Slide and Frito-Lay for Reality Show 'KatalystHQ'

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NEW YORK (Adage.com) -- It's not quite a friend request, but Facebook users are about to get a look into actor Ashton Kutcher's work life in a behind-the-scenes reality series shot at his production company, Katalyst Media.

Ashton Kutcher: 'What we want to do is build a bridge from Madison Avenue to Silicon Valley with a stop in Hollywood.'
Ashton Kutcher: 'What we want to do is build a bridge from Madison Avenue to Silicon Valley with a stop in Hollywood.' Credit: AP
The series, "KatalystHQ," will be a semi-scripted portrayal of life at a Hollywood production company where the boss is, well, Ashton Kutcher. "What we are trying to do with the show is take the everyday inner workings of an office and elevating that to push the comedy of mundane day-to-day activities," Mr. Kutcher said.

What makes this different from the standard celebrity-backed web series, which has a spotty track record, is the way it will be distributed: through an application on the popular social network Facebook. The app, called FunSpace, was created by Slide, a social application maker that is also a joint-venture partner with Katalyst. The show is underwritten initially by Frito-Lay's Cheetos brand. The first episode goes live Feb. 4.

The series is a first for both Slide and Facebook. Cheetos will be worked into story lines and given custom-made pre-roll ads. But Mr. Kutcher said the bigger opportunity, and the reason for working with Slide, is to engage with the target audience where they're hanging out on Facebook and create conversations around the content.

"Our target demo for this is 18 to 34, just out of high school or college and getting into the world world," he said. "The traditional thing of eyeballs for dollars changes when you enter into a social fabric where people are engaging with each other."

Slide will be providing the distribution for the series to make sure it generates enough impressions to satisfy the sponsor. Facebook doesn't have an economic interest but will certainly benefit from the added engagement and time spent by fans on the network.

The deal resembles Media Rights Capital's partnership with "Family Guy" creator Seth McFarlane and Burger King to create "Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy," which is being distributed across Google's AdSense ad network.

As users spend more time on social networks at the expense of other sites, destinations like Facebook become attractive distribution points for video. Slide competitor RockYou announced it will start distributing video as an ad network through its applications on Facebook and MySpace.

Facebook has been growing 10% a month and will soon cross 160 million registered users if current rates hold. According to Nielsen Online, Facebook had 55 million U.S. unique visitors in January, and they spent an average of two hours and seven minutes on the site.

"KatalystHQ" is the third attempt at a web series for Mr. Kutcher and Katalyst Media, which created the animated web series "Blah Girls," sponsored by Vitaminwater, and a live webcast called "24 Hours at Sundance."

Mr. Kutcher said he sees "KatalystHQ" as having several cycles, and potentially multiple sponsors, as it evolves. And it won't be the last branded web series from Katalyst.

"What we want to do is build a bridge from Madison Avenue to Silicon Valley with a stop in Hollywood," he said. "I am enjoying that and hoping to come out of these ventures with a new model for content."

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