Once upon a time, corporations sponsored entire TV shows. Philip Morris brought America I Love Lucy. Dutch Master Cigars beamed The Addams Family to your living room. And The Flintstones was brought to you by the good people at Winston.
The practice of sole sponsorship had mostly ended by 1971 -- due in part to the fact that Big Tobacco (and its dough) were banned from the airwaves, and few other companies had the resources to fund an entire show. But today, thanks to streaming video and widespread broadband, more programming has shifted to the web, and with these cheaper offerings, we've seen the resurgence of the fully sponsored series. Audi recently tried its hand with a (not-so-watchable) series featuring brand ambassador JT. And now Toyota (teamed with Saatchi & Saatchi) is giving it a go with a web series called "My First Ride".
The premise is pretty simple: Toyota takes over Hollywood's Improv comedy club, hires a number of comedians to hop onstage (namely, Bret Ernst, Dean Edwards, Ian Bagg, Daryl Wright, and Carlie & Doni), and asks them to riff on the subject of their first ride.
The results? Well, there are only three clips on Toyota's Break.com channel just now, and none are particularly engaging. Or funny. In fact, they seem a little forced. But that just means that there's plenty of room for improvement, right? Here are a couple that ought to show what we mean. And below that, the former frontman of FreeCreditReport.com, whose ditties offer a lesson in car-themed funny that others would be wise to follow.