Comedy Central's Colbert Makes A Political AND Marketing Run

Run for president and boost your brand awareness -- there's no better way to do so if you're hosting your own TV show.

For Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central, it's a neat trick. Colbert, the funny man with the sometimes-malapropistic political style, says he's running for President.

The model can be simple: get on other news shows; get more public awareness; spend little money; and get people interested. Howard Stern, who didn't exactly need more publicity, did a similar stunt by attempting to run for New York Governor when he was on the public radio airwaves some years ago.

Colbert already has the cool buzz about him. So why not? Marketing costs are minimal -- at first. There's a $2,500 filing fee, says Joe Werner, executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party. (However, Colbert has said he wants to run on both parties' ballots, and the filing fee is higher -- $35,000 -- for the Republicans.) Colbert would be angling to get on the ballot for the Jan. 26 ballot in South Carolina, where he was brought up.

Comedy Central may not be footing this bill -- but it should. That's a tiny piece of any TV show's marketing budget.

If nothing else, the whole process will act like a multi-month marketing campaign, which will no doubt draw in viewers at the intersection of Colbert's TV persona, comedy, a political act, and, perhaps, some real issues.

In past elections much was made of the influence "The Daily Show" (Colbert's sister show) had on voters and the political process - especially with young viewers who were fed up with the too-serious slant of political news.

Last year, in the theatrical movie "Man of the Year," Robin Williams played a "Daily Show"-like host who seeks the presidency and wins.

Entertainers like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jessie Ventura can become governors. So start scratching your collective heads over the possibilities.

Colbert will no doubt add spice to the proceedings. The question is, when will his TV show start seeing some substantial increases in the polls -- er, ratings



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