Experian Makes Credit a Laughing Matter With Web Series

'Funny Truth About Credit' Features Danny Glover, Jon Lovitz and Other Stars Dishing Out 'Edu-tainment'

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LOS ANGELES (Adage.com) -- In a rare consumer-marketing push, Experian is turning credit scores into a punch line as part of its first-ever sponsored web series.

"The Funny Truth About Credit," which debuted this week on Experian's Facebook page and on Experian's website, features celebrities such as Danny Glover, Jon Lovitz, Michael Madsen, Pauly Shore, Vivica Fox and College Humor's "Jake & Amir" acting out humorous scenarios about the myths and realities of credit.

Every episode will also feature a financial expert, Maribel Aber, addressing each celebrity's misconceptions about credit, whether it's Mr. Lovitz mistaking a furniture store for a credit "bureau" or Mr. Shore freaking out about inheriting his wife-to-be's bad credit on all their joint accounts as they exchange vows at the altar.

Kim Hosmer, Experian's chief marketing officer, saw "The Funny Truth About Credit" as a chance to put a more entertaining spin on the credit education Experian has been marketing to consumers for more than 15 years. That's why the series will also be distributed across various personal financial sites as well as humor sites in addition to its own brand and Facebook pages.

"Credit impacts everyone, so it's important we educate consumers about the role it plays every day and at life's most significant moments," Ms. Hosmer said.

The scripted web series was co-developed with Matter Entertainment, the branded-entertainment unit of Edelman PR, of which Experian became a client in September 2009, and produced with Swift River Productions.

Experian's branding throughout will be subtle; the credit company's name is never mentioned and its logo appears only at the end of each episode. David Freeman, general manager of Matter, said that was key to attracting name talent, too.

"Since it wasn't about driving home specific Experian messaging, it was more about delivering quality 'edu-tainment,' our talent understood and didn't feel like this was a pure endorsement deal with them," he said.

"The Funny Truth About Credit" should also make Experian's modest media budget work harder than usual. The marketer spent less than $3 million on measured media in 2007 and 2008, and a mere $214,000 during the first three quarters of 2009, according to Kantar Media. That's why Experian is investing in the web series in lieu of 30-second spots.

"By placing the web series online, we're reaching consumers where they're spending their time, and they can watch, rewind and share as much as they want," Ms. Hosmer said. "It also allows the videos to be a little bit longer, tell a story and engage viewers on a deeper level."

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