With The Mindy Project recently renewed for Season 5 by Hulu, the show’s creator Mindy Kaling sat down with the streaming service’s CEO Mike Hopkins at the Cannes Lions Creativity Festival this morning. Widely known as a week-long advertising event, Lions has expanded this year with a two-day focus on entertainment. Kaling and Hopkins touched on brand integration and her upcoming projects as well as Hulu’s move into live TV. That, Hopkins said, will include a mix of sports and news with entertainment content, “and maybe a live Mindy Project show.” Kaling responded in a burst of laughter, “That would be a disaster!”
Turning to brand integration, Kaling, who stars in and exec produces The Mindy Project, said the show is a great fit for the trend; Lexus is one of the brands that has been prominently featured. “My character lives in New York City, has disposable income… is materialistic,” and concerned about status. Brand integration “pays for some of the nice things we get to do on the show because we have the money to do that. I wouldn’t go overboard, but it’s a wonderful, useful tool for us.”
The Mindy Project, Kaling said, has thoroughly seeped into her own life. “They are so linked. Particularly with the look of the show. The way the character dresses has influenced the way I dress… The show is such a reaction from The Office in terms of how The Office was such a great show and not glamourous on purpose. It was a mockumentary about a place no one would ever want to work. On our show, you want to work there, wear my clothes, kiss the guys I kiss.”
Kaling’s own social media brand is intricately tied to the show. She explained how her first book came about essentially from her own Twitter feed. Kaling doesn’t Snapchat but continues to be active on Twitter and Instagram and wonders about other famous folk who don’t handle their own messages. “There are people who are actors who have other people do it. I think, what’s the point of it?” But, she was reticent to speak too much about her own sort of trademark, “It’s a slippery slope when you start talking about ‘my brand.’ You sound like a lunatic, I think.”
Kaling said the current 4th season of The Mindy Project is due to end on a “big cliffhanger.” Elsewhere, she is currently kicking around an idea for a novel which would be her first non-fiction book, and is working with NBC Universal to develop other shows she will produce, but not star in. “I want to be able to match writers with actors. There’s a side of me that would love to produce something completely different.”
Hopkins had high praise for The Mindy Project. After Fox canceled it, Hulu swooped in quickly to give it a second life. “We had the opportunity to take a show we already knew was successful and put it on Hulu and add to our originals… It has become one of the central brands of Hulu comedy.” Kaling and Hopkins toasted to their first year working together (and Kaling’s upcoming birthday) while Kaling joked to attendees that the panel this morning was “an elaborate ruse for our affair. I mean he’s a very handsome CEO. We’re in France; it’s good.”
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