Craig Ferguson Says New Clothing Company-Sponsored Show Is Not a Commercial

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Craig Ferguson

"It's easier than making broadcast television or anything I've done before," said Ferguson, who served as a co-producer on his new YouTube series, 'Couple Thinkers.'

It's true that Craig Ferguson's new unscripted YouTube show with wife Megan Ferguson is sponsored by a clothing company, but don't call it a commercial. 

"What happened initially was Gant approached us to do the show and I said, 'No,'" Ferguson told The Hollywood Reporter of Couple Thinkers, which is funded by the American men's and women's clothing brand. "I thought they wanted to make a commercial and I didn't want to do a commercial. But they convinced me that what they really wanted was to make a show, a show that they liked.

"The only stipulation we got was that we had to wear Gant clothing while we were talking to each other, which at that point just seemed polite, honestly," joked Craig, who noted that though the couple did have stylists, they were not any different from stylists he's worked with in his past TV projects. "I mean, you work for anybody and they insist that you wear something. But it really was as simple as that." 

On the show, the Fergusons speak with diverse groups of experts and professionals, including Arianna Huffington and Neil de Grasse Tyson, in order to delve deeper into some of life's broader philosophical subjects ("Can we stop aging?" or "When do we leave Earth?," for example). All six 30-minute episodes, on which the Fergusons serve as co-producers, are now available to stream on Gant's YouTube channel. "It's easier than making broadcast television or anything I've done before," added Craig. "The model is very similar to independent film because you have a financier who's a producer who comes to you with a project they want to see and that's it. ... The idea of doing this is very clean. I don't know if it's the future, but I hope it's the future."

Aside from the credits, there is not a single mention of Gant. No montage of the Fergusons getting dressed, no close-ups of branded details, no impromptu shopping trips — nothing. Which begs the question: What exactly is Gant getting from all of this? 

The company has asserted that their goal was simply to fulfill their own mission statement, which is "Never stop learning." And given the quality of the high-brow content, which is filtered into easily digestible 30-minute snippets, they're sure to attract viewers, and therefore expose the brand to more intellectually curious millennial professionals who come to the channel to hear de Grasse Tyson's thoughts on Donald Trump, and stay for Megan's immaculate polka dot navy pant suit.

 

"My team came into my office and said, 'We want to do a TV show,' and I said, 'Are you crazy? We have nothing to do with that realm,'" explained Gant CEO Patrik Nilsson of how the idea was spurred from the company's tagline. "But the more they talked about it, the more we realized it was possible." 

He continued, "We wanted to create something of value for the consumers. So rather than interrupt what they're interested in, like what normal advertising does, we wanted to become what they're interested in." 

Additionally, much has been made of millennials' bullshit detectors, and their distaste for brands which are clearly trying to market products to them under the guise of editorial content. Egregious product placements can border on offensive to some, who have taken to shaming companies with YouTube compilations of obvious-in-a-bad-way advertising. Therefore, the organic and straightforward nature of Gant's format might strike a positive chord with potential shoppers. 

 

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The branding also speaks to a larger trend, which is the growth of the mutually beneficial relationship between Hollywood and the fashion industry. As self-declared storytellers and visionaries, many fashion designers have themselves been dipping into moviemaking as a new medium for artistic self-expression.

Tom Ford and Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy come to mind as crossovers who have created feature-length Hollywood films independent of their fashion labels, while Opening Ceremony and Kenzo creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon have leveraged their extensive Hollywood relationships to produce a number of features that work in tandem with their clothes, not so much as a commercial but a freestanding creative entity in which the actors (often pals like Natasha Lyonne, Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph) just happen to be wearing their latest collections.

Gucci's Alessandro Michele and Burberry's Christopher Bailey, as well as several other luxury fashion houses, have also hired filmmakers to create shorts to accompany various campaigns; however, these visually stimulating five-minute films often lack a narrative. 

Gant's experimental format could signal a new horizon for fashion marketing and open the doors for filmmakers who would otherwise be restricted by the red tape of network or broadcast television, or those lacking connections to an HBO or Netflix. There's no doubt that shoppers want to dress like their favorite TV stars (on season 12 of ABC's The Bachelorette, B.B. Dakota put a sweater back into production after Jojo was filmed wearing it and the company was inundated with fans who wanted to buy it), so the opportunities for both parties are limitless.

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