In Gayle Evans American Family Trusts

Brands are increasingly turning to the entertainment industry for answers that used to be supplied by ad agencies (and in some cases still are). For instance, American Family Insurance is partnering with NBC to deliver 10 episodes of In Gayle We Trust, a comedic take on the life of Gayle Evans, a fictional American Family agent.

Nestled somewhere in the middle of America, Maple Grove is populated with a host of colorful characters, and they all turn to one person for insurance needs, counseling and much much more. Though an insurance agent by trade, Gayle Evans has become the default cure-all for the small town, as her pleasant disposition and sound advice has made her a go-to resource in the lives of her clients.

Brian Morrissey at BrandWeek says, “NBCU and Mindshare enlisted top-flight talent” for this project. Brent Forrester, a writer from The Office, was enlisted to help create the branded entertainment series.
American Family is supporting the series with other brand integrations. Microsoft has created a microsite, “Building a Better Future,” with tools and tips from personal finance advisor Liz Weston. CBS Radio and Katz Advantage crafted a radio promo called “Family You Choose,” which airs on 140 stations. It asks listeners to nominate family members who improve their lives.
When I see news like this, the thing that I keep coming back to over and over again is how agency creative departments are not in the middle of the advertainment scrum, which is a mistake in my opinion.
This deal was put together by Mindshare, a media agency. Even inside creative shops, I believe there’s a tendency to look to Hollywood for branded entertainment answers. Which is fine, but there are other avenues to take. Many agencies have the power under the hood to make these shows themselves, or with help from the production houses they already partner with to make commercials.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.