Comedy Central is launching a cryptic marketing campaign to promote the May 29 fifth season premiere of Daniel Tosh’s Tosh.0.
The barrage of messianic messages — the most extensive promo push the network will undertake this year — includes positioning shress-wearing “followers” with “Tosh 5.29” signs behind home plate at baseball games and sending “recruiters” to beaches and parks in New York and Los Angeles over Memorial Day weekend handing out pamphlets and bracelets, an allusion to the proselytizing custom of Scientology.
“When you have a star of this magnitude with fans that are as rabid as his, it really gives you license to go outside the norms of the typical TV campaign,” says Walter Levitt, executive vp of marketing for Comedy Central.
Tosh.0 is the network’s highest-rated show, averaging 3.7 million viewers for the recently-wrapped fourth season. And Tosh himself has inspired a fervent adherence among his young, mostly male and social network-connected fans, with more than 8 million “likes” on Facebook and 5.5 million Twitter followers.
The campaign is designed to empower fans to create their own “Tosh 5.29” messages. So while, Comedy Central has hired sign holders including dozens of people to unfurl banners over the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges in New York and the 405, 101 and 10 overpasses in Los Angeles, Levitt is hopeful that unpaid fans will engage in their own guerilla marketing.
“We hope that the first thing they’ll do (when they see the Tosh 5.29 messaging), is take out their device and search it and take some creative inspiration from it,” says Levitt. “And that’s a big part of this campaign. When we landed on this idea, Daniel recognized that is was a celebration of the fans. Everyone knew that it was done tongue firmly planted in cheek.”
Denizens of New York and Los Angeles will see sign holders at busy public spaces including Times Square and the pretzel vendors at the Lincoln Tunnel entrance in New York and the Santa Monica Pier and 3rd Street Promenade in Los Angeles. The campaign also will feature takeovers of hundreds of websites including Facebook, Buzzfeed, Woven, Crave and Funny or Die. Print placement will include a “special tribute to Daniel Tosh” via a front-page coverage and full back cover of the National Enquirer. Beginning the week of May 21, spots will begin airing on male-centric networks including ESPN, G4 and Adult Swim, while a one-minute radio message from Tosh will roll out on satellite radio the week of May 28.
In a fortuitous bit of timing, Tosh turns 37 on May 29. The campaign references the clock on danieltosh.com, which is set to expire on his 38th birthday, at which point he has said: “I’ll either put a bullet in my head or just retire to a beach somewhere.”
Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com; Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie