‘The Daily Show’ Rewrites Koch Industries Commercial That Runs During Show

koch_commercialObservant viewers of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” may have noticed that the Comedy Central program has a new advertiser. No, not a video game or even a new flavor of Bud Light: a family-owned outfit out of Kansas is buying ad time during the influential comedy-news program. That company: Koch Industries.

You may have heard of Koch Industries when they were nominated for the initial rounds of the 2014 Worst Company in America tournament, defeating student-loan megalith Sallie Mae, but ultimately losing in the second round to Time Warner Cable. Or you may have heard of them because of the generous political donations that the brothers who control the company have given in recent years. Their political activities are very controversial, for reasons that are outside the scope of this blog post.

It’s clear that Koch Industries wants to present itself as a cuddly, ethnically diverse company that wants to make Americans’ lives better. “Wow, that’s the kind of ad that a company usually makes when it turns out a byproduct of their manufacturing process is giving young pubescent males talking nipples,” Jon Stewart observed after showing a shortened version of the ad. Yet they also don’t really offer any consumer-facing products, with the exception of some disposable paper items that their Georgia-Pacific division sells. Why advertise directly to consumers? Stewart knows.

“Clearly the Koch brothers are trying to say to our audience of not-yet-dying-off voters, ‘even though you’ve heard certain things about the Koch brothers, how bad could they be? If they were evil, would a baby agree to appear in their advertisements?'” he pointed out in a segment intended to welcome the new advertiser to the Daily Show family.

This clip raises many questions. Will Koch Industries fire back? Will they keep running their ad, even though it’s sure to give many regular viewers giggle fits now? Did Comedy Central and its corporate parent Viacom know ahead of time that one of its most popular programs was about to bite one of the many hands that fund it?

According to a Washington Post article about this new ad campaign, this is the first time the company has ever advertised itself nationwide. Brands like Angel Soft toilet paper, maybe, but never Koch Industries itself.

One finance professor near the company’s Wichita home speculates that the real point of the commercials is recruitment: that’s why you see the company’s “careers” site publicized prominently in these ads. Backlash against the Koch Brothers’ political work and donations could be affecting the company’s hiring efforts, if the best and most accomplished young people aren’t interested in going to work for a company with an infamous name.

A Koch Industries spokesman denied this explanation for the ad to the Post, saying that the ads are simply an effort to get the company’s name out there in a context that doesn’t mention its owners’ political activities.

Hmm. They probably won’t want to air that free rewrite that “The Daily Show” wrote and edited for them, then.

Democalypse 2014 – South by South Mess: Ad of Brothers [Comedy Central] (Warning: auto-play video)
Koch Industries adopts new public posture to neutralize opponents, recast image [Washington Post]

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