Microsoft Corp. has signed deals with Volvo Car Corp. and whisky maker Chivas Brothers Ltd. to support two new Web-only video series from Reveille, the production company behind TV shows "The Office" and "Ugly Betty."
The two new shows - "Driving School," a comedy about a driving instructor who imparts life lessons to his students, and "This is the Life," a travel and adventure show linked to a Chivas Regal advertising campaign - will arrive on Microsofts MSN Web site in the next six months, the software maker announced Tuesday at an advertising industry conference here.
Microsoft would not give details about financial or product-placement arrangements with Chivas Regal and Volvo, part of Ford Motor Co.
After Google Inc. made online video a white-hot topic with its late 2006 acquisition of YouTube, advertisers and ad brokers scrambled to turn the trend into dollars with the Web equivalent of TV commercials - short spots before or after a video clip online.
Those will remain a staple of Microsofts video advertising inventory, said Gayle Troberman, general manager of branded entertainment at Microsoft.
But advertisers are also experimenting with original series and user-generated videos as they seek even deeper connections with customers online.