NBC F—ing Gets It; Why Don’t You Other Media Types Dig?

Who here has seen The Office — American version? Yeah, I thought so: it a pretty darn worthwhile download. (Those of you who are puzzled at why I called it a “download” rather than a “TV show” had best get with the picture: “push” style TV is dead to an entire rising generation of attention-greedy, affluent knowledge workers. We consume our video via iTunes and BitTorrent, thank you very much.) Here’s the twist, though. If you google around for the character names, you’ll run across “blogs” set up for the characters by NBC. (In the past, you may have found such things done by rabid fans, as for the series Arrested Development, or outsourced to niche creative geniuses like my man Elan Lee, but now we’re seeing the oldest of old-line players get on board.) What’s so special about this? Well, think of it this way: those blogs are in-character and professionally written — but not just for the main characters! In fact, some of the funniest stuff that NBC has put up is for an ancillary character, downtrodden boomer office schlepp Creed. The blog is exploring and fleshing out an entire new space and giving depth to a minor character, with production value and infrastructure underpinning it. Which, if you think about it, is an extension of the ostensible value the network adds in the first place (plot, character, production, etc.), but instead of being constrained to 22 minutes a week of airtime, they are going deeper and wider. Previously (pre-Web world), you couldn’t justify paying a creative to create this deeper world around each character, because it wasn’t economical to put it in the show. But now, the show is kind of just a long video ad for the web property… The blog creative work plus the quick release to iTunes can only mean that someone at NBC really f—ing gets it! And kudos to him. Because most of the media industry deserves to die in shame and penury, but the product manager for The Office is a goddam hero of the revolution. Finally, I want to share with you this gem before some corporate assclown takes it down: more Creed Thoughts on all-you-can-eat-buffets contains the bachelor boomer’s thoughts on nutrition-in-bulk by means of buffet restaurants, including musings on fat waitress seduction and plate-diameter pricing models. But the real reason that that this is an ingenius and genuine bit of fan outreach is to be found in the comment section.  His commenters have been cheering him on with crude, even vulgar commentary, engaging with him as though he were a kind of dirty class clown sitting in back.  And NBC — either out of ignorance or winking complicity with the engaged fans — has left the crude comments there, unedited.  It’s a bit unfortunate that the example here is such a crude one, but folks, this is real social media, and it’s why the sucess of The Office‘s franchise is different not only in degree but in kind.  Whoever is moderating that blog is either way out-of-it, or with-it, and I suspect the latter.

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