Comedy Central is taking over The New York Times, The Washington Post and other sites with ads that blare slogans like “failing” and “fake news” in the middle of articles.
The spokesperson in the digital ads is an uncanny Donald Trump impersonator, Anthony Atamanuik, who is getting his own parody show on the network.
On Thursday, “The President Show” premieres with Atamanuik donning the orange comb-over and oversize red tie. To herald the debut, The New York Times home page will feature a takeover ad with the presidential doppelganger dropping down in a banner ad and pointing at the website while mocking it with one of President Trump’s signature insults: “Failing.”
The ads, which break the fourth wall to mock the Fourth Estate, were already appearing The Washington Post on Wednesday, loading on the right side of news articles with the character pointing leftward and a tagline “fake news” flashing.
Comedy Central developed the parody digital campaign through its in-house creative team, according to Shawn Silverman, Viacom’s VP of brand, consumer marketing and events.
“The sites appreciated the joke and are being good sports about it,” Silverman said.
It’s less clear President Trump himself will be a good sport about a whole show dedicated to making fun of him. There is also a well-placed billboard on the highway near President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, meant to get his attention with the tagline “Another golf trip? Sad.”
The “fake news” digital ads were direct buys with The New York Times and the newly rechristened HuffPost, targeting articles in their politics sections, Silverman said, adding that Comedy Central also planned to buy impressions on a handful of other sites through programmatic channels.
“The hope is it will be geared toward political content and news content on all the sites,” Mr. Silverman said.
The New York Times and The Washington Post have been benefitting from the attention of the president since he won the election in November. They have used his criticism to fuel subscription drives and tout their serious brands of journalism to attract readers.
The New York Times said that the ad did get approval to run and fell within its ad guidelines. The Washington Post was not immediately available for comment.
Comedy Central also planned digital billboards in Times Square, where the fake President Trump would appear and give crowds the thumbs-up and other characteristic gestures.
President Trump has notoriously appropriated the “fake news” label to discredit any articles and stories that paint his administration in a negative light.
Riffing on that, Atamanuik’s Trump character intruded on an article on The Washington Post’s site today titled, “Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel.”
The presidential impersonator was pointing at the article and waving it off as “fake news.”
Silverman would not say how much the network would spend on digital ad space for the campaign, joking only that it was a “yuge buy.”