The best commercials are those that seem like anything but commercials. Movies? Sure. Sketch comedy? Great. Abstract expressionism? Perhaps--just as long as these ads aren’t, you know, ad-y. An exception to this rule, however, and a phenomenon that’s become more popular lately, is advertising that either spoofs or deconstructs advertising itself.
Escape My Life is a new web series that is also one long commercial for Ford. The product is front and center much of the time, and we see a growing list of its features touted during each 5-minute episode. However, the creators have come up with an ingenious premise that not only explains why this is happening, but sends up other intrusive efforts at brand content. Hollywood wardrobe assistant Skylar (played by comedian Natasha Leggero) receives a free Ford Escape, only to learn that the free ride leaves her saddled with Ford "product specialist" Barry (Superbad's Joe Lo Truglio), who follows Skylar around, chirping about the features of her new car. Barry is a walking metaphor for the show itself.
This series is not the first in which the brand is purposely out on full display the whole time. Earlier this year, Under the Blue Arch took a very sitcom-y approach to advertising by setting a workplace sitcom in a Chevrolet dealership. Subway’s Hulu show The 4-to-9ers is also centered around the product at hand, much of it taking place at a Subway store. What sets Escape My Life apart, though, is its surreal, Diet Charlie Kaufman-type premise. In acknowledging how annoying it is when you’re forced to watch an ad that’s trying not to be an ad, the ad-based show becomes instantly more accessible.
Created by agency Team Detroit, Escape My Life is currently seven episodes deep into a planned eight-episode run. The entire series is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who previously helmed Zombieland, and the forthcoming Ryan Gosling flick, Gangster Squad. The extensive campaign also includes a Facebook page, featuring Barry’s blog, which has multiple posters for Yesterdead, the zombie movie idea Barry mentions in an episode. Whoa--what if Yesterdead turned out to be a real movie, and this whole thing was just a marketing stunt for it?