Comedy Central backs consumer push with $6 mil

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Comedy Central next week launches its most aggressive marketing campaign ever, unveiling a consumer version of its "Save World Sanity" affiliate trade effort.

A $6 million ad campaign, created by Holland Advertising, New York, aims to distinguish Comedy Central from other networks, such as ESPN and MTV, that compete for the 18-to-49-year-old male audience. It also strives to put a lifestyle spin on the network's brand of programming.

RELIEF FOR ABSURD WORLD

"Viewers tune in to Comedy Central because it provides a relief from their stress-filled jobs, an absurd world and a chaotic media environment," said Paul LaRocca, Comedy Central VP-marketing. He added the network's "equally absurd effort" aims to leave its harried, upscale demographic target laughing--and maintaining a loyalty to the Comedy Central brand.

The marketing push comes at a time when Comedy Central is enjoying eight consecutive quarters of ratings growth. Last year, it reached 44 million homes, up 19% from '95. Earlier this year, a number of Tele-Communications Inc. systems dropped the network, but Mr. LaRocca said those losses have since been recouped.

The campaign centers on "Jackson," an overzealous member of Comedy Central's Neighborhood Sanity Watch Team. His efforts to offer Comedy Central as the remedy for the world's insanity will be chronicled in four TV spots.

Comedy Central has bought spot cable time in 11 markets on ESPN, Discovery Channel, Turner Network Television and during "Howard Stern" on E!.

The TV portion doesn't include promo time on Comedy Central or its sister Viacom networks.

Print and radio will be used for image and tune-in messages.

PROMO IN 6 MARKETS

A grass-roots element of the campaign will include various stunts. Jackson, portrayed by David Koechner from NBC's "Saturday Night Live," will visit suburbs in six markets this year in a Comedy Central-customized 1972 Chevrolet El Camino to draw attention to the "Save World Sanity" effort. Mr. LaRocca said the vehicle will be used in promotions with advertisers next year.

Also, a three-market "wild-posting" spree--applying posters to blank walls, like urban construction sites--is in the works, with creative coming out of a spring trade campaign that parodied Calvin Klein and George.

The "Save World Sanity" trade effort is supported with a direct-response push to advertising executives that kicked off last week.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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