If you plan to pitch Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon
Stewart, your client had better have a sense of humor. Just ask the
folks at the Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
Earlier this year, the makers of Cottonelle brand bathroom tissue were
in the midst of a campaign promoting a revolutionary breakthrough -
Cotton-elle Fresh Rollwipes, pre-moistened toilet paper. Cottonelle's PR
machine forwarded prototypes to media outlets across the country,
including The Daily Show. After all, the show is a legitimate Peabody
Award-winning news outlet. Well, actually, it's a Peabody Award-winning
news "parody" show, which Cottonelle apparently wasn't aware of.
In typical Daily Show fashion, producers sent a correspondent to the
steps of Cottonelle's headquarters to report the gripping story as it
"The joke was that this new invention was more important than President
Bush's speech," says Stewart Bailey, supervising producer at The Daily
Show. "So, we kept interrupting the show with the personal testimony of
If Cottonelle execs felt like the butt of the joke, they weren't
After all, for the nominal price of a media kit, they'd tapped into a
large, and incredibly loyal audience.
"They sent this to us as a straight news story and got an enormous
amount of coverage," says Bailey. "But, we had to do it on our
Six producers and four researchers huddle at lively pitch meetings held
weekly. Due to the sharply irreverent nature of the segments, The Daily
Show is not exactly the easiest show to pitch, so you've got to think
outside the PR box. Though they don't solicit pitches, they do accept
them, preferably in tape format.
Product placement is often the best way to garner coverage - as long as
your client's product is absurd, or at the very least, highly
It also doesn't hurt to have a timely news hook to hang your pitch
Recently, the Family & Culture Institute took issue with a Minute Maid
commercial depicting cartoon characters Popeye and Pluto reconciling
their differences because of orange juice.
"Basically, they felt there was some kind of latent homosexual
conspiracy embedded in the commercial, so we just took that and ran with
it," says Bailey. "We traced the history of orange juice and its use as
a tool to recruit into the ranks of homosexuals."
Despite what appears at times to be inherently risque and irreverent
material, Daily Show producers don't take their First Amendment rights
too seriously. "Minute Maid was complicit, but if they had not been, we
might have treated the segment differently," says Bailey. "We make sure
we are not too offensive. We don't make false claims and we don't use
material that would cost us our jobs."
There's no question, you've got to be creative when pitching the
And as it's a news parody show, you should be aware of current events,
especially politics, to be able to recognize a potential plug for your
Obviously, A-list celebrities making the rounds are a big part of the
show. However, one of The Daily Show's charms is its every-man
At press time producers for the show were working on a segment focusing
on President Bush's energy plan.
"The whole sentiment of Bush's policy is that America is blessed with
ample resources, and it is not only our right, but our duty as Americans
to use up as much energy as we can," says Bailey.
So, they found a woman who lives out on a highway, and in order for her
to get to the grocery store, which is located directly across the
highway, she must take an hour-long car drive every day. "We plan to
portray her as an unwitting national hero," says Bailey.
Like most news-related shows, there's always a need for expert
"We recently had a guy in Las Vegas who does a mouth douche with grape
juice to rid his body of saliva," says Bailey. "So, we asked ear, nose
and throat doctor Harold Bloom, who really is an authority. What was
great about this interview was that both sides took themselves so
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Address: 1775 Broadway, 10th floor
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 468-1700
Fax: (212) 468-1890
Supervising producer: Stewart Bailey
Booker: Hank Gallow