Branded Series 'Dating Rules' With Shiri Appleby Makes Viral Chart

Ford, Biore, Revlon, Schick Pile in, but Is It an Ad or a Series? Does It Matter?

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Is the future of the sitcom a syndicated viral webisode series broken into three seven-minute chunks weekly? Alloy and a handful of advertisers are giving it a try, anyway.

"Dating Rules from My Future Self" makes its first appearance on the viral video chart (nearly a million views last week), and it differs from the usual entries in being more or less a webisode version of a romantic-comedy-style TV sitcom with multiple sponsors, albeit with plenty of product integration.

From Alloy, producer of CW's "Gossip Girl," it features actress Shiri Appleby of "Roswell" and "Life Unexpected" fame, in three seven- or eight-minute webisodes a week -- pretty much like a sitcom sans commercial pods, or commercials. Each segment launches with a "presented by " sequence, with Revlon, Ford, KaoBrands' Biore and Energizer Holdings' Schick among the sponsors, who also have their products featured at various times throughout the series.

The concept: Ms. Appleby plays a young woman who gets text messages from her future self warning her of relationship dangers, such as the fact that her fiance is actually a douche. Thanks to some well-timed advice during wedding planning, sponsored by Revlon, she discovers this before it's too late.

This brings to mind another concept for a web series, "Marketing Advice from My Future Self," in which time-shifted brand managers text the sponsors to let them know if they're on the right track. But they may just have to wait for the marketing-mix models.

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