Category Archives: entertainment

How Samberg and Social Media Saved SNL (repost)


In the seasons following the exits of Ferrell and Fey, Saturday Night Live seemed to struggle not only amping up talent and (let’s face it) laughter, but also viewership. Hold up, I know SNL has had some prior low-points and that in its nearly 4 decades of seasons, it’s had some not-so-stellar stints (that are before my time – Yes, I know who Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd are), but, I would argue that when Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon cleared out, things looked pretty grim.

Enter salvation in the form of:


It was a sinking ship until a fresh-faced comedian and writer, Andy Samberg, joined the cast in 2005, bringing with him his two Lonely Island partners Akiva Shaffer and Jorma Taccone as writers and an updated comedic direction. “Lazy Sunday”, one of the first of SNL’s “Digital Shorts”,  was one of the most widely-viewed and talked-about SNL creations since Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush impressions.

This video garnered much attention from the media, which was only heightened with further Digital Shorts like Iran So Far, featuring Adam Levine of Maroon5, and Emmy-winning “Dick In A Box”, with Justin Timberlake (coincidentally, LaunchSquad client, Barely Political created a parody video called “Box in a Box”)– all of which were written by the Lonely Island team for SNL.


Digial shorts: Samberg,  who stars in the online-only videos, and the Lonely Island team, spearheaded these seemingly amateurish videos, that created such a sensation that when “Lazy Sunday” was posted to YouTube (illegally) it was viewed five million times before NBC pulled it for copyright infringement.

YouTube leads to Hulu: Fans can now find clips on YouTube, but that was not always the case. The short “Lazy Sunday,” which aired on SNL on December 17, 2005, with its massive viewership caused quite a stir in pop culture, but also helped legitimized YouTube as a viable medium for brands like NBC to invest in. In late 2006, NBC began uploading SNL digital shorts on YouTube themselves. The short “Dick in a Box” which aired on televelision in December 2006, was viewed more than 28 million times on YouTube.

NBC advanced its online video campaign, realizing that many of us go online to watch TV and and expanded into Hulu, a joint venture of NBC and News Corp. The video network provides high definition (if often incomplete) versions of the episodes and allows users to comment.

This brings up a larger point of the growing trend of online television: according to a recent NYT article by Brad Stone and Brian Stelter, “Some Online Shows Could Go Subscription-Only”, the online video network yields a huge viewership, boasting 5 million unique viewers in February. Sounds like NBC really took a cue from YouTube and took it to the next level, but it’s interesting that this service that’s saving not only SNL, but the network, could switch to a subscription model when part of the reason it’s so popular is because it’s free.

Video embedding capabilities: In October of 2008 Mashable reported that SNL producer, Lorne Michaels, was planning an on-demand Website featuring popular clips as well as providing the embed code so that bloggers and news sites and… well anyone can embed the videos anywhere.

It’s the virality of these videos that inspired to NBC to wise up and embrace outlets like YouTube and Hulu, a decision that allowed them to reach not only a far more massive audience but also a young audience. This audience not only lives online, like the videos now do, but relates more to Samberg’s “in your face” and often brazen comedic style and also appreciates his savvy talent pairings with high-profile pop stars Justin Timberlake and and T-Pain. These attributes ensure that Samberg and his Lonely Island cronies are very well-suited for the task of recruiting the next generation of Saturday Night Live fans, restoring SNL to what it was meant to be – relevant and funny – and by God, he delivers.

This was original posted on LaunchSquad’s Exclamation blog.

Election Coverage: CNN’s Hologram

picture-4This is the hologram feature that CNN’s using for interviews. People are crazy about it. Right now LaunchSquad is holed up in the conference room waiting for the next hologram. And Twitter is begging for it.

picture-7Pretty into it.

The Twit-Pire Strikes Back: Mad Men on Twitter

The Cast of Mad Men

The Cast of Mad Men

The frustration that often comes when I try to explain to my friends and family the usefulness of Twitter stops here. Actually, probably not, but please take a moment to contemplate just how powerful the more than 1,200 8,7000 followers of @Don_Draper can be. To recap, Early last week, feeds from certain characters from the AMC show Mad Men began to show up on Twitter and interact with other users – and of course, their numbers of follower’s sky-rocketed.

The updates on each feed are genius: perfectly tailored to each character in language and content and often talk about plot related activity. They give their followers a feeling that each plot twist is actually happening between each episode.

For example, last Friday @Don_Draper, all of whose updates are as ambiguous and guarded as his character is, put out an update saying “@Joan_Holloway is going to tell me who my new secretary will be” when we were looking forward to last Sunday’s new episode The New Girl, in Which Don gets an attractive new secretary.

For a list of characters on Twitter, check out Ben Kessler’s initial blog post here.

Monday Morning: Finally up-to-speed with the second second season (though waiting to watch my Tivo-ed recent episode until that night), I was pleasantly surprised to recieve a notification that @Betty_Draper was following me. We proceeded tweet about housewives and mothers embracing technology and asked if she’d checked out Blogher – a tech-savvy group of like-minded women, I promised her.

Later that day, I briefly reflected, with my co-worker @greerkarlis, how “nerdy” it was that we were so obsessively following these characters even though we knew (or believed at the time) that they weren’t the real actors themselves but rather someone hired by AMC.

That’s where we were wrong.

That night, Ben Kessler informed me that the feeds of Don Draper, Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway were suspended by Twitter. The mystery was on. Within a half hour, MG Siegler of Venture Beat had written a post about it and had contacted Twitter who responded within an hour that the Mad Men character feeds were, in fact, NOT written by people affiliated with the show or AMC and the network didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of someone not affiliated with the show, posing as these characters.

But as Siegler pointed out in his post, everyone who’s been following these characters KNOWS it’s not the actual actors updating them. We don’t follow because we’re starstruck. We follow because they spice up our feeds and more importantly, tide us over until Sunday night when there’s a new episode. In other words, it couldn’t be better for AMC. Not only is the individual or team behind the Mad Men Twitter activity putting out relevant content, they’re doing it in a space that so filled with facts, this bit of fiction was sure to attract a strong following.

Perhaps that’s why, after 24 hours of uproar from Twitterers, AMC allowed the Mad Men updates to continue. One of the smartest moves their marketing department could have made and, as the Reuter’s article says-, Don Draper would approve.

UPDATE 1: If you’re a visual learner, this post might be good for you.

UPDATE 2: Here’s a new site by the creators of the Mad Men feeds addressing the situation.

*Image courtesy of Vanity Fair.

Cinematic Savvy: The Dark Knight

The Cinematic Savvy series is designed to explore themes and ideas from certain films. Inspiration can be drawn from characters, their quotes, their circumstances, historical approaches depicted – it’s my blog, I’ll take it where I get it. I love film and I love PR. Let’s see how they influence me.

Come on. You knew it was coming. This blog started out with a post about Batman so why shouldn’t the franchise be included in the “Cinematic Savvy” series?

Now, this was an incredibly delicate situation. Heath Ledger was already inspiring much anticipation for the film before his death. Reports of his extensive and seemingly obsessive preparation for the role were rampant. His death only heightened that anticipation, enlarging and redefining the audience to movie-goers who might not be interested in the story, but would absolutely go to see the actor’s last film.

In my first post, Saving Face, I addressed the question of how publicity for the Dark Knight should continue, giving the film the publicity and energy it needed while still respecting the actors death for what it was, a death and not an opportunity on which to capitalize.

PRWeek, in an effort to not only answer that original question, took it a step further and asked what the result was. In an article asking whether or not the publicity campaign for the Dark Knight was a hit or miss, called it a hit attributing its success to the ‘posthumous Oscar debate’ which ultimately drove attention to the dead actor and his performance rather than to the overall genius of the film all the while driving massive profit.

Another lesson in reputation management, crisis management and ethics all at the same time for this PR novice.

The Legacy of a “Lonely Girl”

The producers of the YouTube phenomenon vlog of “Lonelygirl15” and Kate Modern are launching a production company called Eqal that calls itself Social Entertainment. From their website they say they’re incorporating the best of traditional narrative and online interactivity. At the site you can watch their intro which seems to be a montage of their futurer shows. They’re very Cloverfield-eque, seemingly done from home-video cameras. The shows themselves, according to the Eqal are driven by the participation of their viewers.  It’s “community-generated” content, rather than studio-produced. Neat idea – capitalize off of the YouTube trend.

So, with this new ripple in the Social Media Stratosphere, what does this mean for PR? Can the public relations industry approach this medium in a ethical and efficient way?

Since viral content and especially videos have become such a staple in the public relations arsenal, we can only assume that this, too, will become a weapon of choice… er-not to put too violent a connotation on PR tactics.

Regarding Eqal, though, they may be on to something. As their name suggests, there exists the same amount of reciprocity in this medium as in most social media outlets: Users and viewers see the fruits of their own participation.

Let’s just hope this, like most other forms of social media, promotes, respects and contributes to transparency, more than the original inspiration, Lonelygirl15, did.

For Those Who are Interested: The Dark Knight Viral Marketing

Attention Batman Viral Marketing followers. Peep the links I’ve listed below!

Here’s an example of what I was talking about. And the following site.

Seriously. Read the features if you can. Every article and even ad is written as though a legit story.

*Image curtesy of

To Do It In and With Style

In perusing the recent activity on Kelli Matthew’s blog PRos In Training, I found a post that highlighted a Dunlop Tires marketing scheme that promised a free set of tired to anyone who branded themselves with a Dunlop tattoo. This got me thinking about marketing and public relations gimmicks and what people will carry out to drive their marketing or public relations plan away from traditional tactics and into the minds of their audiences. More than that, I had to wonder if I would ever have to be the architect behind some of this pumped-up PR? So I started to research what people are saying about this issue. Honestly, I really wanted to get some ideas so that if ever asked to be over-the-top, I’d have some strategies up my sleeve.

In my search for tips, examples and how-to’s, I came across many blogs that featured this list – the Ten Commandments of Crazy Marketing Stunts, if you will. The list includes a staged protest against your clients’ “good customer service”, nominating your client for an obscure award, and tying your client’s name or business to a current event, for example, local chiropractors sponsoring a marathon in hopes for a business boom after the race.

These ideas interested me until this morning when reading a celebrity gossip blog called Just Jared (my guilty pleasure) who in one of his many daily posts showed a music video made by musician, producer and member of the Black Eyed Peas, that featured a song called “Yes, We Can” which is based off of a speech made by Barak Obama at the New Hampshire primaries. This, ladies and gentlemen, is great PR.

The video features celebrities and musicians singing the lyrics which actually follow the speech exactly – and these aren’t B-listers either, folks. Scarlett Johansson, Kate Walsh, and John Legend are just a few of the ensemble showing their support for the presidential candidate. I encourage everyone to watch the video. It’s very well done. Here is a link to the video as featured at the Just Jared site.

I’m not sure if Obama’s people were involved very heavily in it, but this video showed creative and over-the-top PR doesn’t have to be limited to gimmicks and stunts that will increase car sales but it can be used for something hugely important and worthy of a national attention.