Late Night Change Up

The recent announcement of David Letterman’s retirement and even more recent naming of Steven Colbert to ascend Letterman’s throne are not in and of themselves product placement related blogging material, but there is a tie in.  The Wall St. Journal wasted no time getting the news out about Colbert’s love of brand integration.  I will let the “The daily diary of the American dream,” explain for themselves…

April 10, 2014, 1:13 PM ET

For Brands, Two Sides To Colbert

Stephen Colbert’s big move to the late-night TV big leagues will present new opportunities for marketers. But, judging by their dealings with him over the years, there are also some risks.

CBS announced Thursday that Mr. Colbert will succeed David Letterman as the host of “The Late Show.”

Although advertiser-friendly, Mr. Colbert  has a unique style in how he peddles brands and a history of satirizing some of those that sponsor his show.

He enlisted Doritos, for example, to sponsor his mock-presidential run which he dubbed:  “Hail to the Cheese Stephen Colbert’s Nacho Cheese Doritos 2008 Presidential Campaign Coverage.”

In 2012, Mr. Colbert mocked Wheat Thins, a sponsor of his show. He made fun of the cracker by reading aloud from the memo that Kraft had sent him to prepare him for the product placement. Despite the ribbing, the company was happy with all the attention.

One advertiser is already giving the move a thumbs up.

“I think he really understands how to integrate brands in a very authentic way,” said Bonin Bough, vice president of global media at Mondelez International, the maker of products such as Oreos, Wheat Thins, and Ritz Crackers. “In fact on this new platform I think he will be able to create more interesting and far reaching monetization opportunities. I’m very excited,” he added.

Mr. Colbert also appeared in a Super Bowl ad this year for “Wonderful Pistachios,” a TV spot that mocked the idea of celebrity pitches.

Advertisers have rewarded the comedian with more ad dollars. Marketers shelled out $59.7 million on ads for his program last year, a 10% hike from 2012, according to Kantar Media.

CBS is hoping he will bring that ad trend with him. By contrast, ad spending on Mr. Letterman’s “Late Show” shrunk about 9% over the same period. Still, Letterman took in $129.6 million in ad dollars last year.

There seems to be little evidence of Letterman doing pitches during his long history on the Late Show. The only “Brand” the departing host appears to have featured is Russell Brand.