Stella Artois Ditches Old-Time Campaigns, Creates Retro “TV” Station

Is this a taste of what marketing will look like in the retro-future?


That video above isn’t some ancient TV show, dragged back to life on YouTube. It’s part of a full-on series that the superhip agency Mother London has created for Stella Artois, the Belgian beer label. There are eight more installments of “Stella TV” that will trickle out on the channel in the coming days.

Granted, this isn’t the first time a big company has created Web shorts to promote themselves–Google Chrome just recently commissioned some of the hottest animation/graphics studios in the business to create 11 experimental shorts; way back in 2005, Volkswagen commissioned a series of “feature films.”

But what’s interesting about the Stella ads is just how similar they are to real TV shows–the one above tops 15 minutes. The shows are roughly tied to a theme of treating Mother Nature well. The fictional backstory is a show hosted by “Alain du Monde,” a supposedly forgotten eco-futurist from the 1960s. The shorts will accompany Spotify takeovers, and even direct marketing–200 bloggers will be getting three-course TV dinners in the mail.

Given all that, how long is it until companies begin sponsoring full-on TV shows of their own and publishing them on the Web? That doesn’t sound too much different from television entertainment in the 1950s and the rise of soap operas. And now, the economics make tremendous sense: Why bother creating TV ads if you can get a few million views with no distribution costs while simultaneously creating and having final cut control over far more ambitious content?

The trick, of course, is creating something that millions will actually choose to watch. With that in mind, how long is it until some canny marketer commissions, say, the Gossip Girl team to create extended scenes, and then publishes them to the Web? And after that, when will TV producers begin pitching pilots directly to marketers?


About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.