What can Stephen Colbert teach us about CRM and brand building?

What can Stephen Colbert teach us about CRM and brand building?

If you’re not familiar with Stephen Colbert, he’s a a political satirist and television host of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report, a “fake news show” in which Colbert portrays an over the top caricature of a conservative political pundit. His show does relatively well, and Comedy Central has consistently boasted about the ratings he draws in the 18 – 49 demographic.

As part of his StePhest Colbchella 2013 event, Colbert thought he’d scored a coup by booking Daft Punk to play their summer hit, Get Lucky. What Colbert didn’t know was that he was unable to get the musical act onto his show due to a contractual issue between his parent company, Viacom, and a clause in an exclusive contract between Daft Punk and MTV, another Viacom subsidiary.

The Huffington Post has a great write up of the whole debacle here.

Whether you like Colbert or not, no one gets to his level of success without a deep commitment to his or her fans.


Colbert was clearly disappointed. He’d been hyping Daft Punk, and now, with less than 24 hours notice, he found himself in a relatively awkward position. So with less than 24 hours to spare, what did Colbert do? Did he complain about corporate politics? Did he beg his audience to forgive the let down?

No…. with less than 24 hours notice, Colbert decided to go all out, staging one of the most fantastic displays of fan devotion in recent history. If you haven’t seen the video he put together, take a few minutes now and check it out. It’ll be the best seven minutes of your life.

In addition to a hilarious lip sync of Get Lucky complete with some pretty well choreographed dancing, Colbert pulled out all the stops and brought in the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Jeff Bridges, Hugh Laurie, Jimmy Fallon, Bryan Cranston, Jon Stewart, Nick Cannon,  Matt Damon, and former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.

Any one of these folks would have been difficult to book on short notice, but Colbert got all of them into a single video with less than 24 hours to spare.

This is CRM in the modern age.  Colbert got dealt a bad hand, and with less than 24 hours notice, he transformed a cancelled booking into something so much better than the original plan.


There are many modern corporations and brands that could stand to learn from Colbert’s example.

About the Kabardian Group: We help clients achieve profitable growth. Short, simple and to the point. Our clients include companies large and small and at every stage of their development, including start-ups. www.kabardian.com

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