EpicToon Smacktalk: What’s up with the new RIFTWatch ads?

Last week, Trion Worlds flooded our TV sets and favorite news blogs with RIFTWatch ads, a series of weather reports done Telara-style aimed at hyping the new Patch 1.2.

The 30-second spots featured the blonde newscaster Kate Wentzel reporting forecasts filled with planar tears and rift invasions instead of rain showers and thunderstorms. Watch the sample video here:

What should we make of this decidedly different ad campaign for RIFT? Is it ingenious or imbecilic? Russ and Mick discuss, and both agree it has shades of both.


Russ’ Rant

Yes, I know Ms. Wentzel’s the real deal… a meteorologist and weather personality for some Palm Beach-based TV station with a fit surfer body typical of a California native. But knowing all that makes me more interested in her than what she’s actually saying.

In fact, I think her casting turned what could have been quirky commercials into simple oglefests. Maybe that’s whole point, I dunno. Or maybe Trion Worlds got the same memo handed out to Dead or Alive developers: Booby blondes FTW!

Now before you shout “sexist pig!” or “Betty hater!” at me, let me tell you that I’m not the only one who thinks she’s the best part of the video. Read the YouTube comments of these RIFTWatch videos and you’ll see my comments as pretty decent.

So who’s a better replacement then? I give you the worst weatherman in the world. My gut tells me he’ll hit it out of the ballpark.


Mick’s Shtick

Russ, I think you’re being a tad unfair to Ms. Wentzel. You make it sound like it’s her fault for being too attractive. I actually like how she delivers her lines. They’re clear, perky without being irritating, and I actually feel the sincerity when she says “Be safe out there Telara.”

She’s a solid choice. If I wanted to watch bald, pudgy, bespectacled guys, I’d just call a RIFT guild meet-up and be done with it.

What seems off about the ads is not Ms. Wentzel, it’s the actual execution. Why not do a “Live from crumbling Telara?” I mean, put that clicker she’s holding to good use. Make the visuals more interactive. I know it might cost more money to render custom graphics that don’t look cheesy, but you’re already spending for thousand-dollar TV spots, so why not just go all out.

Ms. Wetzel already appeared in two videos, so it’s my sinking feeling that she’s being groomed as the Kevin Butler of RIFT, only way prettier. She’s a solid choice for what they’re trying to do, but she’s got to have better material to work with.

Hire wittier writers, rent out a real-looking stage, tone down the desperate sticker tape (“Play the Free Trial! Play the Free Trial!”), have her interact with an anchor, make her go “on-location” in a developing rift. There! Now you’ve got something fun and funny that can go viral, which was the whole point of making it a parody, right?