Product placement in the political process? Who knew this was a ripe area for entertainment marketing? This is where Stephen Colbert, comedian/host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," comes in.
Starting a real-life Political Action Committee (PAC) , Colbert looks to build on earlier marketing spin related to the fun of politics -- and then some. Inserting himself -- and the Colbert brand -- into the real-life political process kind of puts branded entertainment into the political marketing arena.
Backing the PAC, Comedy Central has started a website -- naturally - and is running commercials on Iowa TV stations. One spot looked to have fun at the expense of newly announced Presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry, by asking voters to write in a candidate of a slightly different name, "Rick Parry," in the Iowa straw poll.
Nearly 170,000 people have registered for Colbert's new effort. Still, some believe this product placement is causing confusion. One of three Des Moines, Iowa TV stations didn't want to air Colbert's SuperPAC commercial because it might confuse viewers/voters.
Colbert SuperPAC, Citizens for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, is real. But not necessarily to get voters. It's more to get viewers, of course. Whetting the appetites of viewers with comedy in a very serious political process is a great angle. No doubt that is why political cartoons have always worked well in newspapers.
Colbert's stuff riffs off his other seriously fun critiques of the political scene -- as well as that of his Comedy Central partner-in-crime, Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show." Colbert and Stewart upped their brand association into the political scene when they held their own political rallies in Washington, D.C. a year ago: "The March To Keep Fear Alive" and "The Rally To Restore Sanity."
Ratings effect? Both Colbert and Stewart did show some ratings gains earlier this year. But it is hard to say all this came from their extra-curricular political marketing efforts. Comedy Central surely also runs more mainstream-looking marketing for the shows.
One thing is for sure: Stuff like this is only the beginning of efforts to gain comedy -- and promotional -- fodder.