Kara Swisher Grills Gavin Belson in HBO's Fun Podcast Integration

Hooli chief from Silicon Valley opens up in ad read

Kara Swisher has made a career of interviewing Silicon Valley's biggest characters. Her impressive run continued last week when she grilled tech mogul Gavin Belson about the recent sale of his company Hooli—though he preferred plugging his coming-of-age novel and dissing Jeff Bezos.

To be clear, Belson—portrayed by actor Matt Ross—is a character on the HBO series Silicon Valley. To promote the show's sixth season, Ross-as-Belson joined Swisher on her Recode Decode podcast for the branded segment below:

Yeah, tech destroys worlds, books are good, and behind every buyout lurks betrayal. Once again, Swish probes deep into the heart of the matter, even when she's creating advertiser content. Kudos to Ross for his hilariously histrionic performance. 

Produced by Vox Media Podcast Network—home of Recode Decode—the two-minute ad will also run during Pivot (which Swisher hosts with Scott Galloway) and Recode Media with Peter Kafka. 

Swisher's ties to the HBO show run deep. She's guested a few times (including a memorable scene with Belson in Season 2) and interviewed Ross, not in character, about playing Belson. And last year she interviewed another series character—billionaire Russ Hanneman, played by Chris Diamantopoulo—in the clip below: 

In a sense, Swisher is reaping ad dollars from what she's sown through the years by fueling an intriguing cycle of commerce and content. From the 1990s, her reporting on Silicon Valley's cast of characters—and we don't mean the folks on the show—helped usher in the age of tech chic. Hollywood owes her a debt of thanks for stoking the media and the public's obsession with the digerati. She helped create and nurture the cultural milieu that allows such entertainment properties to thrive. 

"We really loved the turns that Gavin Belson's storyline took this season and thought that it would be fun to dig a bit deeper into some of the most hilarious aspects of his character development in Season 6," HBO vp of program marketing Dana Flax tells Muse. "So we worked with the Silicon Valley writers to come up with a fun concept that would allow fans to hear more great nuggets from him and his hilarious new novel." 

Though Swisher and Ross/Belson were in different studios, they taped the spot at the same time, allowing them to play off each other while recording, Flax says.

Such branded audio segments have grown popular of late, helping brands break through to engaged audiences in an age of visual clutter. Another recent Vox example is "Flow Thinking," a four-episode content series for Dropbox that ran on The Ezra Klein Show (generating a 17 point increase in brand favorability and a 14 point boost in purchase intent).

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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