The Colbert Report has satirized sponsorship. The show has also actually integrated sponsored products. As viewer, it’s sometimes hard to tell which are for real–that is, paid for by an advertiser.
In this episode, Colbert razzes the brand managers at Nabisco/Kraft for sending him a memo about the (in)appropriate ways to integrate Wheat Thins into the program:
[Sorry but I can’t embed a Viacom video here! Follow the link to view the entire segment!]
Although a brand manager concedes that Colbert is making fun of them, the brand segment takes up over five minutes of the program, garnering far more attention than any 30-second spot ever could.
This reminds me of Arthur Godfrey, who on radio and early television was infamous for spicing up his sponsor announcements with wry commentary, satirizing excessive advertising claims. Here Godfrey makes fun of Lipton’s claims about chicken in Lipton’s powdered soup mix:
In both cases, while the audience enjoys the razzing, Colbert and Godfrey also succeed in getting resistant audiences to laugh, and therefore, perhaps, to feel a positive association with the brand.
Humor is the ultimate soft sell!