The Office is a brilliant TV show, but you probably already knew that.

But did you know that there’s a three-part “Webisode” on Hulu? If not, take ten minutes — actually less, including the ads — and watch all three, below.

Episode 1: Creative Differences (2:10)

Episode 2: The Replacement (2:13)

Episode 3: The Music Video

A few questions:

  1. Does it cost more to make seven of these or one full episode?  Ignore distribution costs — I care more about production, including cast salaries.
  2. How much does it cost to produce one of these episodes relative to the cost of producing and distributing a television ad?
  3. Compared to a full episode, which is more likely to build an online following?
  4. Compared to a TV ad, which is more engaging?  More “viral”?   More likely to be sought rather than skipped?

TerribleTerryTateIf the answers to the above skew in the direction the title of this post implies, there is probably a huge opportunity here.  Imagine, if you will, if Terry Tate: Office Linebacker debuted today.  In 2003, before Hulu and YouTube were here to make online video distribution easy, and before Facebook and Twitter were around to make content spread from friend-to-friend, the flagship video witnessed 7 million views on Reebok’s website.   Last night’s episode of The Office, by comparison, drew roughly 8.15 million viewers.

Yes, the numbers reek of an apples-to-oranges fallacy; and yes, creating a Terry Tate is hard.   You’d have to hire writers.  You’d have to develop characters.  Actors would not just stand there and smile, but deliver lines and interact with each other.  Permanent sets would need to be built.  The list, I’m sure, goes on, and again, it’s not easy.

But if you can do it, it’s invaluable.   Imagine how amazing it would be if consumers not only watched your ad, but made a point of watching it — every single day.  And then shared it with a friend.