business news in context, analysis with attitude

Two new stories illustrate how different kinds of companies are getting into the branded content business, albeit with different approaches.

• Walmart Canada reportedly will launch a new YouTube series entitled “Upstairs Amy.”

AdWeek reports that the series “follows the lives of three modern women and is about millennial parents and the differences between what their lives are now and what they thought they’d become. The titular Amy has moved apartments with her family and enlists her friend’s help to find out more about her fabulous new neighbor. They document their search in a series of YouTube videos—one of the main characters is an accountant turned YouTuber—and the series incorporates actual social media influencers.”

Appliance manufacturer Hamilton Beach is partnering with Walmart on the series, and “will be featured throughout the episodes, in influencer call-outs online and featured links on Walmart Canada’s site.”

• Meanwhile, Apple will bring back a 30-year-old Steven Spielberg series, “Amazing Stories,” in what the Associated Press describes an an “attempt to build an online video subscription service to challenge the digital networks operated by Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO.”

Apple reportedly has earmarked $1 billion to spend on original content over the coming year. Presumably, the new “Amazing Stories” will be available exclusively on iTunes.

The original series, AP writes, “aired on NBC from 1985 to 1987 and won five Emmy awards for its mixture of science fiction and horror episodes, although the series was never a big hit in the ratings.”
KC's View:
I have to admit to not being turned on by either approach.

I think Walmart is smart to get into the differentiated content business, but the way this is described it just sounds like a gussied up commercial. I think there will be limits to how much people want to spend time being sold stuff, even if indirectly and obliquely.

As for Apple … I wish they’d done something other than dust off a series that it three decades old. It just doesn’t strike me as very inspired.