Under the aegis of Louisville, Ky.-based Brown-Forman, the brand has inked a multi-platform marketing deal with Comedy Central, which airs "The Colbert Report." In addition to being the only online sponsor, it will run TV spots during the Nov. 23 special and have presence during the promotional lead-up of the program.
In the special, Colbert is on his way to meet with Elvis Costello in New York City, but is snowed in at his cabin in upstate New York (bear country). He weathers the storm with help from his friends Feist, Toby Keith, John Legend, Willie Nelson and--naturally--Jon Stewart, whose "Daily Show" precedes the "Report."
Campbell Brown, VP/director of the Americas, Southern Comfort, says the program reached out to the brand, which has been a regular online sponsor--and because it was a "pretty cool opportunity," money was found to back it.
"This is a guy who's hilarious," Brown says, "who is very relevant to our target of 21- to-29-year-olds. The show is heavily rated toward music, with great independent artists like Elvis Costello and Feist. These are strong, solid musicians--unique individuals in their approach to music."
One of the features of the partnership is a "Decorate the Tree" Web banner. Users will be able to drag and drop brand-related elements such as SoCo bottles, limes, a fleur de lis, Mardi Gras beads, and music-related items like guitars and vinyl records to decorate an animated Christmas tree. Once the user has built the perfect tree, they can illuminate it with an on/off switch.
The exclusive online sponsorship elements include the Colbert Platinum Holiday Custom Video Collection on ComedyCentral.com, which features performances and highlights from the Colbert Holiday Special, as well as outtakes and select cuts from the past year's episodes of "The Colbert Report"; custom skin; and home page roadblocks on ComedyCentral.com, TheDailyShow.com and ColbertNation.com.
Southern Comfort will be running a 30-second TV spot during the show's premiere and encore, and branding was incorporated into promotional TV billboards and tune-ins that began running on Comedy Central last weekend.
The brand also took into account the fact that it was a special and a first-time deal. "The premise of the whole show itself is Christmas, and that's a pretty critical time of year for us from a commercial standpoint," says Brown. "If we can invest in something that we think will break through the clutter in December and November, we will do it."