Bright Idea No. 2: Web Serial Branding (Link)

What's Gone Before: Viral videos just hawked brands
What's the Innovation: Serial videos people watch like soap-opera episodes
Who's Doing It: Spherion

Chances are, most every professional has worked a temp job at one time or another and, chances are, it sucked. Patronizing co-workers, imperious mid-level managers, the endless refrain "make the temp do it"—all are staples of modern white-collar day gigging. So why on earth would an interim-staffing firm want to actually spotlight stuff like this?

In the case of Spherion, it was actually worse than that. The staffing firm hired agency CJP Communications to create a five-episode miniseries for YouTube that portrayed in graphic, eyeball-rolling, detail just about every 9-to-5 nightmare endured by temporary workers. The drama series (which just wrapped its fifth episode in April) is called The Temp Life. Absurd? Sure, and that's why people watched.

Viral video's nothing new, of course, but Spherion opted for a viral video serial that worked much like a TV drama series. The interlocking episodes, said Spherion corporate marketing director Kip Havel, "allowed us to dive deeper. We explored more scenarios, developed a following. People got to know the characters."

Drawn from the ranks of CJP's own employees, series stars included the superlatively bitchy "Paul," who insults a temp by assuming she can't use a photocopier, and "Nick," the midlife-crisis manager whose delusional visions including making his company "the global leader in synthetic cord and casing solutions for the global footwear market." If you had to put up with these people, you'd probably shoot yourself.

Which is exactly the reverse psychology behind the series. By acknowledging that temping is often a rotten gig, Spherion planted the seed with viewers that it could steer them clear of hellish gigs. "We all know that there are plenty of bad temp assignments out there," Havel said. "So the messaging is that we know, we get it, and Spherion is going to offer better experiences."

Thus far, The Temp Life has drawn 60,000 viewers, and while Spherion doesn't have a hard metric to measure returns, Havel said, "It's apparent this is resonating with viewers." What'll be the ultimate fate of this marketing experiment? Tune in next week...