Comedy Central’s CMO Walter Levitt on how the brand leverages social media to shout about its experiential marketing stunts
Even in today’s tumultuous television space, where changing viewing habits and newer platforms like Netflix are continually shaking things up, Comedy Central has managed to breathe new life into the traditional TV realm in recent years with a string of shows that have resonated with its target audience of “millennial guys.”
The Viacom-owned cable channel has some of the most talked-about shows on television today, including newcomers like Broad City as well as classics like South Park.
During a keynote at Social Media Week in New York City, Comedy Central’s chief marketing officer Walter Levitt gave attendees some insight into how the brand has "melded social and traditional advertising" to create buzzworthy campaigns for its roster of shows.
To give the audience an example of how Comedy Central does this, Levitt explained how he and his team created a campaign for Inside Amy Schumer three years ago before the show initially premiered. Back then, Schumer wasn’t the household name she is today, and Comedy Central was trying to find a way to draw some attention to the budding comedian.
To do this, Comedy Central executed a unique out-of-home campaign where real-time video footage of Schumer was projected onto buildings in New York and LA. In the video (see below), Schumer pretended like she was appearing in a cheesy phone-sex ad, with the text ‘Call Amy now! She has a secret! 1-800-388-7962’ stuck below her.
Viewers who actually dialed the number could have a conversation with the comedian in real-time, and some took to Twitter using the hashtag #InsideAmy to share their wacky experience. According to Levitt, about 1,600 people actually called the number, and the outdoor stunt resulted in “a decent amount of social sharing.”
More recently, Comedy Central did something similar for its wildly popular show Broad City. To get fans excited for the show’s season three premiere earlier this year, Comedy Central invited them to come to Brooklyn and paint a giant Broad City-themed billboard. According to Levitt, more than 1,000 people showed up to take part in the experience – and of course share it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“This was not about the on-the-ground event. It was all about the sharing,” Levitt said, telling audience members that Comedy Central’s out-of-home and experiential events are always rooted in social strategy. “We no longer do things that do not have a sharing component.”
Overall, Levitt said that one of the key takeaways when it comes to combining traditional marketing with social is that not everything is going to be measurable or even successful – but he encourages marketers to still do it anyway.
“We’re very aware that everything we do is not going to be directly measurable. I think it’s important in this space, more than any other space, to just try stuff,” he said.