Who is your client, and what are his media goals?
Chris McMurry: Allan Brandt, the Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, as well as an author of several books, wanted to raise national awareness for his book, The Cigarette Century, which had been released early in the year.
What made The Daily Show with Jon Stewart such a good hit?
McMurry: We did some research and knew that The Daily Show is very interested in bringing on people who have a fascinating takes on hot-button issues. We also knew Stewart was a former smoker and thought he'd be interested in hearing of tobacco's role in everything from government policy to the evolution of marketing in the US.
The Daily Show has become a "must" TV appearance for celebrities, politicians, and authors, and gets inundated with pitches. How did you cut through that clutter?
McMurry: We originally sent an e-mail and followed up with a phone call with little result. So we took the initiative and sent the book, along with a handwritten note, to one of the producers explaining why it would be perfect for the show, especially given they had just done a segment that included old cigarette advertising. The producer called right back, saying how rare it was to find a topic that fit so well into what they were doing.
Stewart obviously likes to take a comic angle on a lot of his interviews. Did that require any special media training for Brandt?
McMurry: Brandt does some speaking, and he's very good, but we did encourage him to be ready to step out of his comfort zone and go down some funny paths while making sure he didn't cannibalize his messages.
What was the impact of the hit?
McMurry: Within days of the airing of the five-minute segment, The Cigarette Century went from being around number 17,000 on Amazon's list of top-selling books to about 500, so Brandt was thrilled.
Name: Chris McMurry, account manager, MGH (Baltimore)
Placement: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, June 13
Pitch timeline: Six weeks