NBC’s “American Auto” is gassing up audiences for its season two premiere on Jan. 24. But a new social spot for the sitcom about an office of out-of-touch automotive executives in Detroit will focus on an unconventional platform in the age of going viral—LinkedIn.
The five-minute video, created in-house at NBC, is a faux version of an Ask Me Anything (AMA) livestream and plays like a mini episode of the show. It stars “American Auto” lead Ana Gasteyer as Katherine Hastings, the faux auto company’s new CEO with little knowledge of cars. As she tussles with a skeptical LinkedIn audience, her assistant Dori, played by X Mayo, pops in and out of frame to comment on Hastings’ uncouth comments.
Kjerstin Beatty, executive VP of entertainment media planning and strategy for NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, told Ad Age the idea came about simply because LinkedIn is a natural platform for a CEO to be on, and where one thirsty for attention might attract views.
“We don’t often have comedic CEOs in our comedies,” said Beatty. “LinkedIn is very professional—it’s about careers and congratulating people on new achievements and learning workshops. So, we feel like this is going to be incredibly interruptive ... It’s going to really stand out because I don’t think on LinkedIn you would expect to see something like this.”
The imitation livestream begins with Hastings getting set for the AMA, not realizing she’s already live. The screen appears like a social livestream would, with a viewer count in the top right corner and, as she begins to bemoan the state of her bowels after a dim sum lunch, a stream of reaction emojis floating across the screen (in this case, puking faces and smiling turds).
As the auto exec goes through common livestream practices, a call for viewers to shout out where they’re watching from turns out little interest until the text bubble “Michelle from Paris” floats on screen, followed by “Paris, TX” as Hastings shouts “Bonjour!” Later, as questions begin appearing, it becomes increasingly clear that Hastings has little knowledge of the auto industry and perhaps doesn’t even know how to drive.
Inevitably, the questions become too aggressive for Hastings’ comfort and Dori attempts to close the stream, but accidentally keeps it going long enough for viewers to hear Hastings say, “Jesus, what a bunch of dumbasses. Who goes on LinkedIn anyway?”
While one might think of platforms such as TikTok or Twitter for going viral, NBC will be tracking unique metrics to LinkedIn to determine if it's a site worth going viral on.
“With something like this—it’s five minutes long and that’s a lot to ask someone to watch,” said Beatty. “So, one of the things we’re going to be really closely looking at is view-through … And then also, how many shares and reposts will happen, which is very much a LinkedIn behavior—I’m curious to see if that skyrockets. Between understanding how viral this is and how much engagement there is through view-through, that’s going to tell us how the LinkedIn audience embraced it.”
Although the video was created with LinkedIn in mind, it will also run on other digital platforms, including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, with a shortened version running on TikTok and Instagram Stories.
“American Auto” season two premieres Jan. 24 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.