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JibJab takes aim at outsourcing

Online satirists team up with MSN for a video looking at how a highly skilled worker loses his job. Images: JibJab takes a swing at outsourcing

JibJab is moving its satirical sights from presidential politics to retail mega-stores and the outsourcing of U.S. jobs.

The latest Web animation from the Spiridellis brothers also marks a switch in online allies for JibJab, from Yahoo to Microsoft's MSN.

The new animated short, "Big Box Mart," features an "unsuspecting consumer" who loses his highly skilled factory job because the work is being transferred to a lower-wage economy overseas. The worker ends up as a janitor at a mega-retailer.

"Big Box Mart" debuted late Thursday during NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Shortly after that, at 9 p.m. PDT, the animation became available on MSN Video and at JibJab.com.

Inside JibJab's latest video

As part of their agreement, MSN will have exclusive rights to show JibJab's next five animated offerings. The companies will also work together on product placement deals through which MSN advertisers may integrate their brands into upcoming JibJab shorts. In addition, the Microsoft unit said it will sell traditional TV advertising units next to JibJab films shown on both MSN and JibJab.com--the first ad relationship in which MSN will sell advertisements on a site outside the MSN network.

Previously, JibJab had an exclusive distribution deal with Yahoo, which ended with the release of JibJab's "Second Term" video in January, at the time of George Bush's second swearing-in as president.

A jaundiced eye for electoral politics brought JibJab to fame in 2004. Brothers and cofounders Evan and Gregg Spiridellis poked fun at the presidential race with "This Land," which lampooned Bush, John Kerry and others through a sing-song parody of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land." The animated video drew 10.4 million unique hits in July 2004, according to ComScore Media Metrix.

Unlike the earlier shorts, "Big Box Mart" won't feature nationally known politicians. Instead, JibJab signed up fans through a casting call on its Web site, and more than 1,000 of them will appear in the video.

"'Big Box Mart' is about bad things happening to real people," Evan Spiridellis said in a statement. "Thanks to the Internet we were able to invite our audience to be a part of the production in a way that's never before been possible."