Kenan Thompson stars alongside first-graders in Old Navy mockumentary series

The six-episode series, ‘Lil’ Interns,’ is described as ‘The Office’ meets ‘Kindergarten Cop’

Published On
Jan 03, 2023
Kenan and a toddler named Archie sitting at a table

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Old Navy is heading in a slightly new direction with its latest advertising gambit, tapping long-time “Saturday Night Live” cast member Kenan Thompson to star alongside a dozen junior interns who range in age from 6 to 9 in a new brand-backed workplace mockumentary.

Titled “Lil’ Interns,” the six-episode comedy series was developed in concert with Los Angeles-based ad agency Observatory, which is owned by Stagwell, in a bid to help Old Navy attract eyeballs with no-strings-attached entertainment content. It debuted on Jan. 3.

It was produced by “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels’ production studio Broadway Video and directed by filmmaker Jason Woliner, who most recently directed the second installment in Sacha Baron Cohen’s infamous Borat franchise, 2020’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”

 

The series is based on a simple premise: Thompson, faced with the prospect that his comedy career may not last forever, has signed on with an internship program that will take him through various departments at Old Navy’s San Francisco headquarters—only for an off-screen producer to inform the “SNL” actor that his fellow interns are children.

Each episode, which clocks in between four and six minutes long, follows Thompson’s misadventures through different parts of the retail company including Human Resources and Finance, which also serve as the titles of each short film.

Unlike a traditional commercial, “Lil’ Interns” is largely unbranded, with Old Navy only serving as the show’s setting and as a plot device.

“Old Navy has a history of creating iconic, compelling content rooted in humor and pop culture. With ‘Lil’ Interns,’ we wanted to take our playful brand ethos beyond the traditional advertising space and delight viewers through pure entertainment,” Liat Weingarten, VP of brand marketing and communications at Old Navy, said in a statement.

“As storytellers we’re always looking for fresh ways to connect with our customers and are excited to test this new, unbranded content approach in our media mix,” she said.

The entire series is available for streaming on YouTube and on a dedicated webpage, lilinterns.com, which is embedded with a number of interactive mini-games and Easter eggs, such as Thompson’s comical internship application and a draw-it-yourself tool for users to design their own Old Navy outfit.

Lower on the webpage, there is also a “Fans React” section beneath the videos that contains a number of positive (albeit seemingly fictitious) reviews, including one credited to “Kenan’s Mom” that reads, in part: “This show is one of the funniest that I have seen in some time.”

In addition to its microsite, “Lil’ Interns” will enjoy distribution on social media via TikTok, Snapchat and Meta-owned platforms, home screen placements on Vizio smart TVs, and a number of influencer partnerships.

The new series is hardly the first brand venture for Thompson, who has appeared in a number of commercials during his nearly 20-year tenure at “Saturday Night Live.” In October 2021, the comedian appeared in an Autotrader spot from 72andSunny New York, and earlier that year, he appeared alongside Will Ferrell in General Motors’ Super Bowl ad, “No Way Norway.