Who Gets Marketing Value From Letterman's Super Bowl Promo?

David Letterman appeared in a promo during the Super Bowl with Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno.

 

Question: What was this promo for -- and who gets the real marketing value?

If you were half-conscious of the fact that the Super Bowl was on  CBS, you probably made the connection and realized this promo bit was for "Late Show with David Letterman." You get additional credit if you noted Oprah Winfrey's daytime show is distributed by CBS Television Network's sister division CBS Television Distribution.

This might have been confusing for some concerned executives, especially since Jay Leno is due to return to "The Tonight Show" on NBC next month, again in direct competition with CBS' "Late Show."

Letterman and "Late Show" producers pushed for this effort for one reason: It was funny. Some TV executives might counter there are other ways to make promos funny, and that CBS gave "The Tonight Show" some intentional marketing spin.

But late-night hosts make a living from topical, timely humor. As long as Leno agreed -- why not?

More strange bedfellows: The Super Bowl promo came right after Comedy Central's ("The Daily Show") Jon Stewart appeared on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" -- two sort of rivals when it comes to opinionated political analysis.

No, this wasn't a promo -- but it might have been. But there was limited downside.  Fox News has a big advantage over all news channels when it comes to political analysis programming.

I'm not sure Letterman will be taking the same step as Fox New and having Leno on the "Late Show." An extended talk show segment featuring two comedians who were at one time friends probably wouldn't happen.

Of course, "The O'Reilly Factor" isn't necessarily a direct competitor to "The Daily Show" -- not like "Late Show" is to "The Tonight Show." 

Also, while "Late Show" has been number one against 18-49 viewers with O'Brien in "The Tonight Show" host seat, Letterman was far behind the show when Leno was in "Tonight Show" chair.

And remember this:  ABC, and to some extent CBS, didn't allow their performers to become guests on the 10 p.m. Leno show for fear of NBC's stealing away viewers.

All this makes us wonder what's next.  When will Diane Sawyer interview Katie Couric?

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2 comments about "Who Gets Marketing Value From Letterman's Super Bowl Promo?".
  1. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative , February 9, 2010 at 12:13 p.m.

    I always think it's a mistake when a marketer is afraid to mention a competitor, even when virtually 100 percent of the audience is already aware of who the competitor is. It's like a politician who doesn't refer to their opponent by name, for fear of giving him any accidental promotion.

    You say "Some TV executives might counter there are other ways to make promos funny, and that CBS gave "The Tonight Show" some intentional marketing spin."

    Yep, that's exactly the type of thinking of most TV executives. That's why most of television is so lame -- most execs don't respect the audience enough. At least, not the ones I worked with.

    The value of Letterman's 15-second promo is that not only was it funny (and it was), but it was smart and self-deprecating -- and perfectly in tune with Letterman's personal "brand".

    For example, I doubt you'd ever see the reverse, with Jay having Dave appear in an NBC promo. It's not Leno's "brand."

  2. Michael Waters from Siren Interworks , February 9, 2010 at 12:59 p.m.

    "Fox News has a big advantage over all news channels when it comes to political analysis programming." Because... they program reactionary hacks who either make things up or regurgitate the right-wing extremist party line? That is a big advantage. Half-conscious indeed.