You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Yahoo Launches 9-Part Minivan Ad Disguised as Comedy Series Starring ‘SNL’ Alum Ana Gasteyer

Is it entertainment or is it a commercial? In the hybrid world of “branded content,” the two collide — resulting in something packaged to look like a show, but is really an extended pitch for a product or service.

In one of the latest executions of the concept, Yahoo debuted a digital comedy series starring actress-comedian Ana Gasteyer (“Saturday Night Live,” “Suburgatory”). The nine-part series, “Going There with Ana Gasteyer,” is brought to you by Chevrolet: In each episode, Gasteyer tools around with “celebrity guests” in the automaker’s 2016 Traverse, following storylines written to highlight the minivan’s “family-friendly features.”

The weekly series, exec produced by Ellen DeGeneres and Jeff Kleeman, is from DeGeneres’ A Very Good Production in association with Warner Bros.’ Blue Ribbon Content short-form digital studio.

Yahoo, of course, isn’t alone in farming this soil. For example, AwesomenessTV boasts that one of its most popular original series, “Royal Crush,” which looks like a scripted teen drama, is actually branded content sponsored by Royal Caribbean. Brian Robbins, founder and CEO of AwesomenessTV, has said that whereas most TV product placement puts the product in the show, “Royal Crush” puts the entire show within the product itself.

Advertisers love the approach, because it’s supposed to be content their target demo (in the case of Yahoo-Chevy, it’s moms) will want to watch, enjoy and share with friends — which is not always the case with a 30-second TV spot. Media companies, meanwhile, are able to cover the upfront production costs and like that the model gives them better odds of actually generating profits.

Guests on the weekly “Going There” series, which Yahoo launched Monday, include Jenna Fischer of NBC’s “The Office” (pictured above); former “SNL” castmate Maya Rudolph; and Jessica St. Clair (“Playing House,” “Bridesmaids”).

It’s a kind of spin on Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” the popular long-running series on Sony Pictures Television’s Crackle. “Comedians” has been exclusively sponsored by Acura since its inception, but Jerry drives around a variety of autos (in contrast to the starring role of the sponsor’s product in “Going There”).

As part of the pact with Yahoo for “Going There,” Chevrolet will place ads on Yahoo and syndicate the videos. Yahoo also will produce additional content featuring interviews with celebrity guests, as well as “moms and dads of all stripes,” on topics of interest to parents for the “Going There with Ana Gasteyer” site. The series was created by Libby Silverman and Blue Ribbon Content’s Zoe Friedman.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Still from "Andhadhun"

    Microsoft Streaming Deal Lifts Shares in India’s Eros

    Shares of leading Bollywood film distributor Eros International soared by 38% on Thursday following news of the company’s link up with Microsoft to develop a new generation of video streaming platform. The multinational company said that its Eros Now video operation would work with Microsoft Azure to develop its technology in three ways. They seek [...]

  • Comcast X1 DAZN

    Comcast Adds DAZN Sports-Streaming Service to Xfinity Flex, Sets Launch on X1

    DAZN, the digital sports service headed by ex-ESPN boss John Skipper, is now available to Comcast broadband customers on Xfinity Flex and will be available on Xfinity X1 this fall. It’s the first distribution deal for DAZN with a major U.S. provider since it debuted the combat-sports-oriented service in the States a year ago. In [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Raises Bar for Channel Verification, Stripping Some Creators of Verified Status

    YouTube is making it harder for channels to receive a verification badge indicating their authenticity — and the program’s new requirements mean that some channels won’t be eligible for verification. Like other internet platforms, YouTube indicates to viewers that specific channels are officially run by the creator, artist, celebrity or company they represent with an [...]

  • BuzzFeed - Katie Sitter

    BuzzFeed Taps Activision Blizzard's Katie Sitter as Head of HR (EXCLUSIVE)

    BuzzFeed hired Katie Sitter, most recently an HR exec at Activision Blizzard, as senior VP of people. Sitter, who starts at the company Sept. 30, will lead the BuzzFeed HR organization and oversee strategic initiatives related to organizational planning, talent acquisition, learning and development, performance management, compensation and benefits, labor relations, and diversity, equity, and [...]

  • Kano

    Kano Tipped to Launch ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Frozen’ Coding Kits

    Educational consumer electronics startup Kano is getting ready to release “Star Wars” and “Frozen” coding kits, according to regulatory filings. Recent FCC filings made by the company reveal plans to release a product called “The Force Coding Kit” as well as one called “The Disney Frozen Coding Kit.” Kano representatives didn’t respond to multiple requests [...]

  • Apple Arcade

    Apple Officially Launches Apple Arcade Game Subscription Service

    Apple officially cut the ribbon for its new game subscription service Thursday: Priced $4.99 per month, Apple Arcade offers unlimited access to over 100 exclusive games. Apple Arcade was released alongside iOS 13, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Some of the titles available through the subscription package include “Lego Brawls” from Lego [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content