Late-Night Hosts Mock Trump, But He's Running Ads On Their Shows

Campaign ads are a usual part of the TV political cycle.

But this year isn’t usual — and neither are the ad placements.

For example: President Trump is the butt of endless late-night talk-show jokes, from Stephen Colbert to Seth Meyers — but it doesn’t impact his ad strategy.

Hosts Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel regularly mock Trump for his pandemic response, racism and sexism. Yet, his campaign bought three times as many ads for their shows as Joe Biden’s, according to Advertising Analytics.

In dollars and cents, since June 19, Trump shelled out $1.3 million for the three late-night shows, while Biden spent $700,000. Plus, Trump ran four-times as many spots, noted Bloomberg.

It’s probably a bit like traditional counter-programming. Viewers get a big dollop of parody and satire, but they also get, assuming the commercials aren’t muted, a dose of Trump world.

Bloomberg reports the Trump campaign usually advertises on shows Republicans are more likely to watch, such as “Wheel of Fortune” or “Let’s Make a Deal.” It also prefers the morning shows.



Conversely, Biden favors national news shows, particularly MSNBC and CNN, where he outspends his rival. But there are two inexplicable exceptions: Trump bought more time on “Cuomo Prime Time” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.” It’s hard to see his campaign strategy here, especially with “Maddow.”

Both commentators push for informed guests and fact-based reporting. And Cuomo regularly debates with Republicans. Still, it seems reasonable to assume neither prime-time show makes inroads with the “Make America Great Again” crowd.

Will the ads make the difference? In some election cycles, controversial ads dominate the discussion, such as LBJ’s “Daisy,” about nuclear annihilation, or George H.W. Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad, which stoked racial fears. Both are credited with having an enormous impact on voters.

While TV political ad strategies can be cagey, this year seems especially illogical. Then again, it’s been such a frightful year, nothing has made sense.

Maybe, we should just stick with the laughs.

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