The popular "LonelyGirl15" Web serial is breaking new ground in ongoing efforts to monetize video content by signing a unique deal with the Neutrogena skin care company. In a step beyond product placement, Lonelygirl15 episodes this summer will actually feature a branded character--a Neutrogena scientist, according to the Associated Press and other sources.
Some bloggers are impressed by the partnership, which they view as a creative way to pay the bills and help keep the show alive.
Others, however, view it as the ultimate sellout. But the show is likely to overcome such Web community disappointment. It started as a video blog by a home-schooled 16-year-old named "Bree." Nine months ago, however, Bree was outed as an actress in a scripted Internet video project.
Blog community response:
"While we long ago exposed the Lonelygirl15 phenomenon as the work of professionals and not a 16-year old in her bedroom, the latest twist in the Web drama takes selling out to a whole new level."
"The jury is out on whether this is a good move or not for either party (although I'm sure LG15's creators like getting paid). What I do know is that it will create a bit of buzz and I think it is an interesting experiment to reach out the viewers/fans of LG15. I'm not sold on the way they are doing by (re: introducing a character in the way they described) but we'll have to wait and see if it takes or not."
--The Client Side
"There's a whole slew of questions that this brings up. Could short films start finding funding this way, with characters rather than a carefully-placed product? Would they even want to? I think it's fairly easy these days to ignore what product your favorite star is indulging in, but where's the limit on characters? We always hear about how studios step in and mess up a character to try to make it more tantalizing to the public (and how that fails), so I can only imagine the possibilities if product companies get in on the development."
"Well, it's good to see a Web video show making some money with sponsors. Congratulations."