A Brisk Morning & A Morning Risk

September 19, 2014

If you told me when I was a graduate student in poetry that, 20 years later, I’d be addressing someone called a “Chief Risk Officer” and his executive leadership team at one of the largest financial services institutions in the world, sharing strategies and insights on innovation and risk management… I would have told you to please not interrupt me when I’m playing NHL Hockey on my Sega Genesis.

Quite a risk, this executive took in handing me the mic for an hour this morning!

So there I was, bright and early, kicking off my talk by offering common ground between the risks a big bank takes and the risks media companies (like the one I work for) take. I led with a clip from Comedy Central’s incredible series “Nathan For You,” now wrapping up its second season.

If you haven’t seen the show, it’s so worth checking out here. In the meantime, here’s a segment from the show’s already famous “Dumb Starbucks” episode, in which Nathan attempts to mitigate risk by implicating a befuddled “attorney” in his scheme.

Comedy Central’s programming, lauded recently in this great piece on Vox, is filled with examples of a network taking risks — and winning because of it.  From Key & Peele to Drunk History, not to mention the daily fearlessness of Jon Stewart, “the channel always has something worth watching,” says Vox writer Todd VanDerWerff.
Yes.  And that’s because there’s nearly always something it bets on, something at stake, something not exactly safe.Like putting a poetry major in front of a bank’s risk management team.


Picture DL Hughley & Michael Chertoff Debating The Torture of Somali Pirates…

August 5, 2009 — 1

Happy to hear last night (at Haru, which is way too loud) that a new format, “The News Has No Clothes,” is gaining momentum. After a successful experiment at the Aspen Ideas Festival, it’s now getting packaged and shopped for TV.

The format brings a performance element back to topical (political) comedy. As Craig Minassian puts it, “stand up comedy is really an editorial.” The format gets interesting when you think of the combos, like a Michael Chertoff and a DL Hughley talking about torturing Somali pirates, and whatnot.

DL Hughley, Michael Chertoff & some Somali pirates 

Craig’s a political mastermind, who’s been a longtime sherpa for the Clintons. He also co-founded Comic Relief and the HBO Comedy Festival, way back. Minassian Media advises some top TV networks and non-profits on how to become (or stay) relevant. I have worked with Craig a few times, and I’ve always been impressed at how he fuses comedy, politics and humanitarianism in smart new ways I suspect larger audiences are ready for, now.

Together with Stu Smiley and Robert Morton, I feel like what they’re doing can really work on the right platforms. I say platforms, plural, because if I were running it, I’d make sure this thing can be sliced & diced for web-wide distribution, becoming news, sometimes in advance of each episode’s TV premiere.

Here’s an already


BING Spot Premiered Tonight on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

June 12, 2009 — 0

Tonight the BING execution premiered on The Daily Show.

In each, a commercial break begins with a direct response ad for Snuggie. After a few seconds, your TV begins fast forwarding, as if it has a mind of its own. It fast forwards through the Snuggie ad, then through spots for Bosley, Cash 4 Gold and some others. Finally, BING pops on screen and introduces itself as the “decision engine” that gets you want you want faster.

Tonight, what you want faster is more Jon Stewart, so we get you right back into The Daily Show. Saving time by fast forwarding you through the pod, we were able to add 2 minutes more to this episode of The Daily Show, and that became an interview with Katie Couric. BING gets credit for giving you exactly what you want, faster.

Here’s how it played out tonight, shot on my TV at home:

Untitled from Ross Martin on Vimeo.


Major props to the team at Comedy Central for pulling it together, our partners at JWT for the execution, Digital Fusion and my guys for the idea to begin with, Generator for putting the deal together with us, and Microsoft.

Next up, CMT, VH1, Nick at Nite and MTV. Here’s the schedule, hope you like:

Thurs June 11: Comedy Central The Daily Show, 11p
Friday June 12: CMT Top 20 Countdown, 11a (reairs Sat/Sun)
Sunday June 14: Nick at Nite George Lopez 10p
Monday June 15: Vh1 Charm School 9p
Wed June 17: MTV The Duel 2 Reunion Special 10p


We’re Finally Talking About “Bing” Today

June 4, 2009 — 0

Just read the feature about us by Stuart Elliott in the New York Times today, announcing our branded ent (what are we supposed to call it, again?) deal with Microsoft. Msft’s tapping MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, CMT and Nick at Nite to help Yusuf & co. launch BING, their new search decision engine. I’m proud of our incredible teams for their brilliant work to make this happen. It’s just the start.

We’re starting on Comedy Central Thursday with The Daily Show, continuing through June 17th on CMT’s Top 20 Countdown, Nick at Nite’s The George Lopez Show, VH1’s Charm School, and The Real World — Road Rules Challenge Duel II Reunion Special on MTV.

From the article:

“The MTV Networks shows will carry a Bing spot, created by JWT, called ‘Fast Forward,’ which looks like viewers are using the fast-forward feature on a DVR or VCR to zip through 2 1/2 minutes of commercials in 30 seconds. The intended message is that is about ‘getting what you want,’ the spot declares.

“’What’s great about ‘Fast Forward’ is that it flips traditional TV advertising on its head,’” Judy McGrath, chairwoman and chief executive at MTV Networks in New York, wrote in an e-mail message, “’to the benefit of the marketer and the consumer.’

“We’re delivering stronger exposure for the brand,” she added, “and more show for the fan.’”

(Click here to read Stuart’s full aticle)