Podcasts

‘The Office’ actor and podcast host Brian Baumgartner talks podcast advertising

“The more that they allow me to play and make it feel organic and real and conversational, I think those are the most effective,” Baumgartner said about podcast ads.
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The Office/Peacock via Giphy

4 min read

You probably know Brian Baumgartner from his iconic role as Kevin Malone on The Office. You might not know that since the show ended, he’s been the host of not one, not two, but three different podcasts (while still maintaining his acting career).

“It’s become a main job for sure,” he told Marketing Brew. “If you want to do it well, it is a lot of work behind the scenes.”

That behind-the-scenes work includes reading ads for some of the biggest brands in the podcast space (think: Indeed, Athletic Greens, BetterHelp), a skill he’s been honing since he started his second pod, The OfficeDeep Dive, in 2021.

We talked to him about how he works with advertisers, and how he got into the podcast game in the first place.

First take

Baumgartner first started podcasting in 2020 with a 12-episode show called An Oral History of The Office. Media exec Ben Silverman, former producer of The Office, originally pitched the idea to Baumgartner, he said. Silverman’s Propagate Content produced it.

Baumgartner didn’t want to do a traditional rewatch podcast. Instead of reflecting on old episodes, he was more interested in “looking at the show on a macro level,” partially because of the nature of its huge audience.

Bet you know a lot of Gen Zers and young millennials who are fans of The Office. But the show first aired in 2005, when much of that group was barely even in their teens. How? Largely the Netflix effect.

An Oral History of The Office gave Baumgartner a place to explore why, exactly, a show that started in 2005 about a paper company continued to find such massive success via streaming over a decade later, while giving younger fans a chance to learn more about what was going on behind the scenes when they were just kids.

The podcast also includes little-known stories and trivia about the series, like the fact that Michael Scott (Steve Carell) was the first to make a joke about former President Obama on television, according to Baumgartner.

Enter ads

After working with Propagate, Baumgartner linked up with iHeartMedia to debut The Office Deep Dive, in which he continued to explore the history of the show with fellow cast and crew members. That’s when Baumgartner started doing ad reads, he told us.

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He’s still reading ads on his third and current podcast, Off The Beat with Brian Baumgartner, also produced by iHeart. The show regularly features Baumgartner’s former Office co-stars, but also includes his interviews with celebrities beyond the sitcom.

“We get a lot of [advertiser] requests all the time,” Baumgartner said, adding that he’s always interested in “trying different products that people have out there. I feel like that connection makes way, way more sense, and makes it feel organic.”

If a company or product doesn’t feel like a natural fit for the show and its audience, Baumgartner won’t agree to reading the ad. That doesn’t happen very often, he said, but products he can actually test out have a better shot at earning his stamp of approval. He’s not saying he’s expecting a free BMW, but he wouldn’t exactly turn one down.

Generally speaking, there are two types of ad reads he does:

  • The “straight ad,” where he just reads a script, potentially with a bit of improv.
  • And “the endorsement,” which is for brands that are “really looking for a personal experience from me, and all of those have to be something that I either use or will use,” Baumgartner said. (BMW, that’s your cue.)

Baumgartner said his advertisers don’t often ask him to re-record, as long as he’s hit their main talking points in his natural style.

“The more that they allow me to play and make it feel organic and real and conversational, I think those are the most effective,” Baumgartner said.

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Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.