Easy to Assemble
Ikea recently ordered a third season of this breakout comedy series, starring Illeana Douglas as — wait for it! — an actress who works at Ikea Burbank. Even with the in-your-face product placement, Easy to Assemble is scoring with critics (it won a Streamy for best ensemble); celebs (cameos from Jane Lynch and Jeff Goldblum); and viewers (9 million — plus streams since 2008).
The Victory Project
Think The Biggest Loser without the maniacal trainers. This Kellogg's Special K series follows real women as they work with fitness, nutrition, and beauty coaches to overcome weight problems.
The Temp Life
The show began as a "cost-effective" way to boost brand recognition, says Lisa McCarthy, a marketing exec at Spherion Staffing Services. But it is now a bona fide phenomenon: At the start of its most recent season, this charming weekly comedy series — about temp jobs, naturally — had notched roughly 18 million views.
The crown jewel of Lexus's online content hub, L Studio, stars Lisa Kudrow as a self-absorbed (typecasting!) shrink who counsels via Webcam. Showtime picked up the snappy series this past spring, and it has already helped Lexus "reach customers outside the automotive arena," says Daniel Reynolds, a marketing exec for the carmaker.
Schick effectively targets the Jackass generation in this amusing action-adventure series. The twentysomething hosts try such water sports as kiteboarding, river kayaking, and windsurfing — for better and (usually) for worse. All of it, though, is meant to evoke "the unexpected blast of hydration" delivered by Schick's new Hydro razors that feature a "hydrating gel reservoir."
Orbit Dirty Shorts
Arrested Development vets Jason Bateman and Will Arnett take Orbit's "for a good, clean feeling no matter what" motto to hilarious extremes in their first effort. In the pilot, a dad (Bateman) pops a sparkling piece of gum to keep his cool around the pervy teacher (Arnett) who's taking his daughter to the prom.
Dirty Little Secret
Part Gossip Girl, part graphic novel, this Elle-produced, Tresemmè-sponsored animated series follows a group of New York fashionistas who flash hair products and fight their way up the social ladder.
This sharp comedy series about a hotshot who became an odd jobber started as a stand-alone venture. But positive viewer response and a deepening recession led creator Jeremy Redleaf to launch two companion sites to help people find work: Odd Job Nation (which has lured more than 6 million visitors by aggregating odd jobs from the Web) and the more irreverent Rèsumè Shirts (which lets users, um, wear their credentials).
Appetite for Adventure
In Hyundai's clever take on Iron Chef, chef David Lawrence cruises around Los Angeles in—what else?—his brand-new Hyundai Tucson, searching for weird ingredients (cumin seed, daikon radishes). Then, bloggers from women's food site Good Bite, a fellow sponsor, are challenged to work each into an original recipe, which Lawrence prepares for viewers.
Back On Topps
"It creates a fun, faux history around the company," says Larry Tanz, whose content studio, Vuguru, helps produce this Office-like sports comedy, set in the fictional headquarters of Topps, and featuring cameos from athletes such as Baron Davis and Julio Franco.
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A version of this article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.