5 Brand Marketing Lessons from #ComedyFest


Earlier this week Comedy Central announced the upcoming #ComedyFest, “a five-day celebration of comedy taking place on Twitter.” The event will open on April 29 with a sign of the times: comedy veteran Mel Brooks will send his very first tweet. Brooks will get a bit of help from fellow comedians and Twitter aficionados Carl Reiner and Judd Apatow during an in-person chat and livestream.

A series of Twitter discussions, video clips and livetweets will follow. The event signifies not only Twitter’s shift toward becoming a multimedia platform, but broadcast television’s deep dive into the world of social media. Within this clever campaign we identified several mimic worthy strategies for the brand marketers of the world.

Go where your audience goes

“One of these days we will be ambivalent about where people watch Comedy Central,” the station’s VP for programming and multiplatform strategy told The New York Times. The lesson here is that to stay relevant, it’s vital to know where your audience is consuming content and then take the initiative to make that switch with them.

Cultivate thought leadership

This might not be thought leadership in the way that we think of it in the marketing, insurance or finance industries, but ComedyFest is making the concept its own. By gathering known entities from the comedy world for public-facing conversations, they’re giving audiences an inside look at the industry. A great example of this is the Writers’ Room panel, which will pull in TV comedy writers to discuss what it’s like to be in a wrtiers’ room and how the whole process works.

Help fans get more of what they like

With the festival comes the introduction of CC:Standup, a free app that uses recommendation algorithms to help users discover new comedians based on those that they already like. Think Amazon’s recommendation system, but for comedy.

It’s about dialogue

The biggest difference between traditional television and this rising social version is that audiences can actively participate. For some brands, that conversation just happens, but others need to do a bit of coaxing to get fans involved online. Several of ComedyFest’s segments invite users to get involved — whether that means volunteering to be roasted by Jeffrey Ross or tweeting Hannibal Burress questions about his time on the road.

Explore new platforms

On April 30, Steve Agee will host Vine Dining, an event featuring six second videos from the comedian’s Vine friends. We’ve seen brands dabble in the world of Vine, but fitting a joke into six seconds is a commendable challenge. Vine isn’t for every brand out there —  it all depends on your audience and creative resources, but having just debuted this year, it’s an open frontier with plenty of room for rising stars.