Sponsored Fun or Selling Out? Comedy Duo On Road Trip for Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz.

rhett and link buffet songRhett and Link, comedic video amateurs, are mountaineering above the overhang of “The Great Cliff of New-Media Sponsored Advertising.” They’re harnessed to each other with a taut rope, knotted with creativity. The friends swing effortlessly to the next hold in a pendulum traverse. Rhett knows the objective danger as he firmly grabs his nub, and Link’s total attention is committed to spotting him. Their eyes lock, then gaze slowly down upon the falling spree at the mountain’s base. It would be a perilous drop to their death (is that ZeFrank’s skeleton?). But they both smile, knowing full well that they’ll live to see another climb.

[Editorial addition 6/20 9 pm EST: Rhett and Link have an insightful comment below] In their latest celebration of corporate sponsorship, the singing and acting duo present this hysterical video called “The Buffet Song.” It’s a song parody about all-you-can-eat buffets. Now there’s *every reason* I should have known this was a sponsored video:

  1. It was clear on the video’s description and it was a reply to a video about the Alka Seltza tour.
  2. I received this from them via e-mail, and it was explained as a video that it’s part of their of “Great American Road Trip Series” sponsored by Alka Seltzer.
  3. Heck I even last week agreed via e-mail to meet them in Philly (Pat and Gino’s Cheesesteaks) for a video that they said was part of some Alka Seltzer series. They wrote, “It’s part of our Alka Seltzer road trip gig…. We’re still developing the angle so if you’re interested, you can weigh in as we develop it.” I took that as a fun challenge, and began soliciting others to collaborate. See- sometimes it’s not all about the money. Maybe they’ll have free samples.

But then, like, Yipes, Scoob… I opened this video above, and all of that awareness vanished — just like those pain pangs of overindulgence when met by a delciously effervescent glass of heartburn and indigestion medication.

In fact, I’d like to take you sequentially through my experience, which is something I can’t stand in a conversation. I’m always telling my wife, “you’re burying the lead again, Jo… I don’t need to know about how much change the post office gave you before the freak you saw on the way out. Just tell me about the freak.” But now I digress…

To read about my sequential experience wrapping my small brain around this video campaign, click MORE (bottom left corner of this blog – right above the “share” link”). Trust me, it’s worth it.

alka seltzer

You clicked “more”? Dang. You, Link’s parents, and the intern that is doing to reporting on this campaign.

  1. I get an e-mail from Rhett and Link. I see the title. Naturally I’m expecting a Jimmy Buffet song parody.
  2. I realize it’s a campy hip-hop musical parody, and I almost bail at the first sound of tingling drum machines.
  3. Suddenly there’s some old man giving a painfully droning testimonial about all-you-can-eat buffets. Hmm. Let’s give this another second. Wait- that quote just became — verbatim — the next lyric of Rhett and Link’s song.
  4. Oh that was clever. Shit. I can’t judge Rhett and Link. I’m being called to join the two of them as they celebrate the guy taking himself WAY too seriously about food. It’s funny but not mean.
  5. I’m captive. I’ve got to understand the source of this man’s soundbyte, and see more of it transformed into a song. Was this man from a news story? Is he the next Rubb a Bubb? No wait! There’s another person — a woman. Now Rhett and Link are at the same restaurant. Could THEY have done the interviews?!
  6. Did they interview people and get permission to parody them in song? How’d they have time for that? I can’t even get permission from a restaurant. This is going to be a WIllVideoForFood blog post. The guys are posing zen-style to a cinematic shot at the restaurant.
  7. Hold it- I swear I saw an Alka Seltzer logo. Was it subliminal? Do I go back and see it? WAIT- there it is again. A toy on the buffet bar. Oh man. This is sponsored and it’s pretending not to be. I’m so gonna bust them. Sorry guys – love you both. But if you violate the rule of transparency then you… wait. The video’s end title calls up a website. It’s sponsored, and they’re clear. What’s this website? SpeedyRoadTrip? No- it’s SpeedysRoadTrip.com. Bastards made me type it. Don’t they know I can’t spell?
  8. Get a load of this corporate website. This comedic duo is the ultimate sellout- I’m tame next to them. I hope they made some good money. I wonder if it dilutes their image or if they care. Hey- here is a trailer about the road trip. The music is actually good. Who the hell else could have pulled this off? They’re the right age, not obese, quirky, campy but not in a “groan” sorta way. And they can be bought without looking too bought. They’re a damned advertiser’s dream.
  9. Crap- I think I love and hate this campaign, but love it slightly more. What about the sponsor’s point of view? Yeah- it’s about American food, and it’s not a glutonous celebration because Rhett and Link are two thin college-age looking kids (I happen to know one is a dad because I was interviewed by them for their live show- even if I can’t remember which is Link and which is Skimpy).
  10. I have to go blog about this. Oh shit. I just remembered an unreturned voicemail from some guy who called me ages ago about doing some road trip. I assumed it was for a hotel chain, and I couldn’t have done it anyway because I don’t have vacation time left. On common, Nalts. Who am I kidding? I couldn’t have touched this. Totally out of my league. After they secured the Babe Ruth spot, I should have a clause in all proposals that says I will not bid if Rhett and Link are.
  11. Oh- the interviewees are answering the question, “how would you describe an all-you-can-eat buffet to an alien.” Oh these little Shaggy & Scooby kids are good. Too good. I must kill them in Philadelphia. Anyone know of a good cliff?

11 Replies to “Sponsored Fun or Selling Out? Comedy Duo On Road Trip for Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz.”

  1. So how much money have those guys made so far from selling out constantly in their videos? Have they gone over the $100,000 benchmark yet? I’ve personally only made 20 dollars from selling out due to t-shirt sales.

    I really like how most of my comments on this website always somehow end up to be about myself at the end. I’ve got such a bloated ego…

  2. Pretty clever video actually. But is it selling out if you are up-front about it? Isn’t that what you REALLY want to do with your life, Nalts – sell-out to the highest bidder?

  3. Great post, Nalts. This whole thing could not be articulated better. You got it right in so many ways…

    To answer a few of the questions you raised:

    1. We’re happy with the compensation…let’s put it this way: it gives us hope that we might be able to make web videos for a living.

    2. Yes, I’m sure it dilutes our image to one end, but from a purely artistic standpoint, we actually think this video HELPS our image on Youtube. Because of the support, both financially and logistically, that we received for this series, we honestly feel like it’s our best work. In fact, a good number of fans have said, “You guys have really hit a groove with this new series…you’re doing great stuff AGAIN.” If the content sucked, or was even just okay, this series could be web suicide. But people are loving the content and dealing with the branding…so far.

    The thing that we’ve repeatedly voiced to our core followers is this: we wouldn’t go on a 21 location road trip across America on our own. We wouldn’t have made this series apart from sponsorship. So, there is no scenario that exists where we do something of this scale without branding…once people buy that, they are much more willing to cheer us on.

    All that being said, it’s a tough spot to be in. The better this series does, and the further it reaches outside of our small but aligned fanbase, the more criticism we’ll get for selling out. But it won’t be fair and balanced (have you thought of working with Fox News?) like your critique is. You were able to see through the branding to the content, and you found yourself enjoying it. Unfortunately, I think that perspective is still pretty rare.

    Thanks again, and we look forward to you killing us in Philly.

  4. I think they hit it – they pleased everyone. The fans, the sponsor and I think they stayed true their creative brand of comedy. I don’t know if I feel this way because I expect to see more online people doing/incorporating ads to make a living or if I’m just rooting for these guys. I thought they struck the right balance. Will there be naysayers? Always, who cares!

    ps kevin will your love never die?

  5. I liked it, and didn’t pick up on the advertising til the last minute, but that didn’t bother me, because the background music and melody were so cool.

  6. As good as it gets, on so many levels…

    I, for one, say nice job on those guys… They do maintain the balance of “adver” and “tainment” very very well..

  7. Wow, this is a great post. I’ve met and spoke with Rhett and Link and they are smart, funny, talented guys. As I’m from Wicked Awesome Films, I’m all about comedy. And sponsored or not, I laughed out loud more than once watching this video. Clever, of course. But funny? Damn straight.

    -Bobby J.

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