Advertisers might say negotiations with the Comedy Central sales team can leave them nearly stripped, so to speak. So would the network really invite clients to post photos of themselves that way on the Internet?
Speaking about launch plans for the upcoming “Inside Amy Schumer,” Comedy Central’s marketing chief Walter Levitt says the network might look to “nudify” advertisers. To be certain, he didn’t wholeheartedly commit to the mischief with Madison Avenue.
But potential viewers — even some media members — might receive photos of themselves ready for use via a Nufidier app. The function allows people to pixelate certain body parts. They look caught in embarrassing situations. Plus, the results can be posted on Facebook or tweeted out.
The "nudiying" attaches a promotion for "Schumer" to the bottom of the photos, suitable for smartphone or other framing. Apparently, the network will be involved in both opt-in and “surprise!” versions. Advertisers and some others are likely to receive “pre-nudified” photos, ready for personal creativity if one wants.
But Levitt says: “You may well just suddenly get a notification on your Twitter or Facebook (feeds) that somebody has already ‘nudified’ you -- and here’s where to go to pick it up and post it, so we'll be doing that for people. Save you the trouble.”
The "nudification" capers play off the show’s double-entendre tagline: “A Series of Embarrassing Episodes.” That catchphrase is the throughline for much of the launch efort.
The ribald Schumer – a comedian who can display a fascination with certain body parts (she’s gender-neutral) -- is well-known to many Comedy Central viewers for her stand-up acts and appearances in roasts.
The 10-episode season of embarrassing episodes debuting April 30 features a combination of stand-up, “man on the street” acts and sketches. Levitt said it’s not autobiographical, but takes inspiration from a young single woman living in the city and traveling.
“One of the things you love about Amy is she’s not afraid to go there -- not afraid to talk about things that happened or that could happen that are fun, funny and often times embarrassing,” Levitt said.
A new phase of the launch campaign features New York subway posters of an innocent-looking Schumer appearing unaware that she's been "nudified" -- her chest has been pixelated.
One conceit Levitt and his team seized on is low-grade, cheesy commercials for 1-900 lines seen in the 1908s. Schumer has starred in multiple parodies with that “want to chat?” voice. (Yes, “Turn Her On” is the tagline.)
Comedy Central is taking the concept to massive screens in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend before the series debut. Ads with a Schumer speaking invitingly will be projected on walls. But without audio, onlookers will be encouraged to call a 1-800 number to listen to Schumer’s uncensored words. (A 1-900 number might have been a more organic feature, but they do cost money.)
Looking to “capture the authenticity” of the 1980s spots, Levitt said the video was shot with a vintage Betacam. The campaign includes plenty of traditional elements, such as TV spots and placements on sports, lifestyle and entertainment Web sites targeted to men 18-34. Spots will also air during Howard Stern and "Opie & Anthony" programming on Sirius radio.
But with “nudification” and other stunts, Comedy Central is searching for social media grease. “Always looking for sharable angles in anything that we're doing,” Levitt said.
Enter pedicabs on the weekend before the premiere in several markets, including New York and Chicago. Ads on the backs will look to get guys, who may have put back a few too many, to take photos of friends in embarrasing situations -- then post them on a social feed. The creative features an arrow pointing toward a rider with lines such as “Too Drunk To Walk” or “Headed To The Clinic.”
Just like avoiding the 1-900 number, Comedy Central is looking out for fans’ wallets with the pedi-rides. They're free.
In fact, riders might not have to tell the driver where to go. The cabs will be circulating in neighborhoods with active nightlife. Comedy Central will place coasters in dozens of bars, which will encourage drinkers to “avoid an embarrassing episode” by writing their name and address on them before too much libation kicks in. Then, they can simply hand it to the pedicabbie.
Before they leave the nightspot, however, they might encounter an ad above a urinal with Schumer saying “Eyes On Me, Off Your Neighbor’s Junk.”
Speaking of focus, Levitt says social media provides his team with real-time insight into what tactics are working and which may need changing. “We are literally monitoring hourly what’s going on -- conversations that are happening, what’s being shared -- and we are adjusting plans,” he said.