NBC's web-only series In Gayle We Trust has broken the barrier on digital series’ success and proven that an insurance agent, played by Elisa Donovan (Clueless, Beverly Hills 90210, Sabrina The Teenage Witch), can become a star.
A branded entertainment partnership between NBC Universal and media agency Mindshare, the series — backed by AmFam, or American Family Insurance — launched in 2009 and was renewed last year.
By season two, Gayle had doubled viewership from 18 million to 34.9 million. Season three, which launches this week, centers on a newcomer who is creating a musical, aptly titled Policies! Policies!
“In Gayle We Trust delivers quality entertainment in a manner that both keeps viewers coming back for more and aligns with the values of the sponsor. American Family Insurance beckons the insurance-buying public to allow us to protect their dreams,” said Telisa Yancy, advertising director.
Emmy Award-nominated actor Fred Willard and Richard Karn (Home Improvement) make cameos in season three, with Anthony Q. Farrell (The Office) as writer and Jason Farrand (Head Case) director.
The series has succeeded in heightening brand awareness. “Viewers of In Gayle We Trust have solidly resonated with that theme, as reflected in considerable increases in insurance quote requests as a result of the series,” added Yancy.
The entire series (including the first two seasons) will be available on AmFam's website, in addition to a broader digital distribution network including on iTunes, Hulu, USA Network and NBC websites with a related game through Fan It, NBC’s affinity program.
“In order to be successful going into our third season we needed to elevate our game. That meant developing more entertaining storylines, higher production values and an even more robust distribution strategy to make sure viewers can find the show easily,” said Andy Hayman, executive director/consulting producer at Mindshare Entertainment.
It's also the only web series originated by NBC Digital Studios, which was killed off with Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal, to survive that unit's closure.