DDB's Windy City outpost has hired a former "Saturday Night Live" writer and producer to lead its efforts to build an online TV network for Anheuser-Busch. The agency is tapping "SNL" alum Matt Piedmont as executive producer for Bud.tv, which is scheduled to launch in February.
Mr. Piedmont's resume suggests he's qualified to produce the kind of humor-based programming expected to fill Bud.tv's eight channels. He worked at "SNL" from 1996-2002, earning two Emmy nominations for writing comedy such as the recurring "Jeffrey's" sketches that featured Jimmy Fallon as an obnoxious boutique clerk.
Since leaving the program, he's written for film and TV projects starring some of the iconic show's alums, such as 2001's "Joe Dirt" with David Spade and the Chris Kattan vehicle "Corky Romano," and has worked on Fox Searchlight's upcoming "El Romantico," also starring Mr. Kattan. He's also been a consulting executive producer for Mr. Spade's "Showbiz Show" on Comedy Central.
Bud.tv's channels will feature comedy, reality and sports programming, with an emphasis on web-isodes and humorous shorts that may be similar to some of the sketches Mr. Piedmont wrote for "SNL."
"Matt Piedmont is a terrific talent," said DDB's managing director-creative, Paul Tilley. "As our business continues to change and evolve, so does the kind of talent we are able to attract." And Mr. Piedmont-who has no advertising experience whatsoever-certainly qualifies as a different sort of hire.
In an interview, he said he was intrigued by the freedom the new medium provided. "It's a lot like 'SNL' in its immediacy," he said. "We can do things that are more out there, more absurd, more unique, and we can do it without being hamstrung."
Of course, the famously cautious A-B will be policing the project. But, Mr. Piedmont noted, creatives will be given a long leash and won't be saddled with requirements for product placements or plugs of any kind. "As I understand it, the only mention of Bud or A-B is just on a little bug in the corner of the screen," he said.
While Mr. Piedmont's hire perhaps sheds some light on the direction of Bud.tv's content, questions remain as to who will be allowed to be in its internet audience.
Shortly after announcing plans for the network, A-B's top executive on the project, Tony Ponturo, in an interview said he didn't think Bud.tv would necessarily have to conform to the Beer Institute's marketing guidelines, which require that no more than 30% of a viewing audience be younger than the legal drinking age. Brewers also are supposed to ask website users their age.
Since then, however, A-B has changed its tune, saying it will go further than the Beer Institute's guidelines by actually performing background checks on users to make sure they are as old as they claim to be.
A-B has declined to disclose details on its plans for more stringent age verification, noting that its search for a vendor to provide the service is ongoing.