Zooey Deschanel is getting into the web series business. She's serving as creative consultant on season two of The Single Life, a show created and coproduced by Digital Broadcasting Group (DBG) and Real Mom Productions. The series will "live and breathe on HelloGiggles.com," a website Deschanel cofounded with Sophia Rossi and Molly McAleer, DBG's CEO Chris Young tells Fast Company. The deal swells DBG's long roster of original web video content, while nudging Deschanel into a growing coterie of Hollywood starlets who moonlight as entrepreneurs.
DBG calls itself a "content production and distribution company," and is something of a hybrid between a production company and an advertising agency. One of their highest-profile productions to date was Kiefer Sutherland's The Confession; the company also often works with brands to build video series offering what Young terms "utilitainment" ("providing a brand utility while entertaining the consumer at the same time," he explains). DBG also produces a lot of brief video content that it then pushes to 2,600 partner websites. The company's "sizzle reel" lays it all out.
The trick, Young says, is to keep the branding subtle and integral to the story. "The idea is to try to figure out brand objectives, where are the natural integration points, where it works with the story arc." To "tastefully integrate" the brand is key: "If we the beat user over the head with the brand, they’re not going to engage." Subtlety is so key, in fact, that Young asks me not to divulge the name of the brand DBG collaborated with on the first season of The Single Life, though you could probably figure it out if you watched it.
The collaboration with HelloGiggles came about, according to Young, through conversations with the CAA agency. For the girl who already has everything, though—a hit TV show, a talent for the viral music video, mesmerizing bangs—what's in it for her?
Deschanel wasn't available to comment for this post, but in dabbling in Internet entrepreneurialism, she is a product of her time. For the modern starlet, stardom is rarely enough; a thoroughly cultivated personal brand also involves an Internet investment or two, à la Kutcher. Each week seems to bring more news of the young and famous flexing their inner venture capitalist: Teen star Selena Gomez recently invested in a postcard app. And Jessica Alba just threw her weight behind Honest.com. A startup investment, for many, is the it accessory this season.
In Deschanel's case, of course, her own investment is more directly in line with her persona—comic actress—since HelloGiggles bills itself as a site for "cool girls who like to laugh." Deschanel cofounded the site in May of 2011. The site is quirky and cute, very much in Deschanel's image, and has a lofty mission: to be "lady-friendly, so visitors need not worry about finding the standard Boys Club content that makes many entertainment sites unappealing to so many of us."
If that's a vanity tech investment, it's the kind we'd like to see more of.
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[Image: Flickr user Breezy Baldwin]