A Visit to ‘Continente Comedia’ with Sean Saylor

by Bernadette Simpao, Viacom International Media Networks

Humor doesn’t always travel well, but Comedy Central is proving that it translates quite nicely for Latin American audiences. Since its launch in February, Comedy Central Latin America has been embraced throughout the continent, and is currently available in 11 million households across the region. The network is now seeking to build on its position, by further localizing its connection to viewers through “Continente Comedia,” an online and social media campaign launched this summer to establish an ongoing dialogue with fans. “Continente Comedia” includes the viral “Siesta” spot (featured above), as well as weekly commentary from local standup comedians on Twitter’s trending topics and a Facebook app.  We caught up with Sean Saylor, VP of Creative for VIMN the Americas, for an inside look at “Continente Comedia” – and to get his thoughts on what makes a winning campaign.

Bernadette Simpao: What is the goal of the “Continente Comedia” campaign?

Sean Saylor: The goal of the campaign was to further strengthen Comedy Central to the Latin American audience.  The concept is based on the fact that Latin Americans really don’t take themselves too seriously, and that Comedy Central reflects that attitude. We built the campaign around the hashtag #continentecomedia so our audience could use it to tweet about the absurd things that happen to them because they live in Latin America.  It was a way for us to start a dialogue with our viewers and help stir up local conversation.

BS: How did you come up with the idea for the “Siesta” spot?

SS: I was in the bathroom. As you know, all great ideas come while you are in the bathroom. (Just kidding!) We commissioned this campaign to the agency Weiden and Kennedy in Sao Paolo, Brazil. They came up with a few ideas around the concept of “Continente Comedia,” and we liked this one because it’s something that as bizarre as it might sound, it wasn’t that ridiculous. This is something that could actually exist, so I think that makes it even funnier.                                                                                                                                          

BS: What has the response to the “Siesta” spot been like from fans/viewers?

SS: It has all been super positive, but what has surprised me the most is that many websites and news outlets have picked up the spot and sold it as actual news, with headlines saying things like “Mexico Celebrates the Nap World Cup?” I love this! The spot has really taken on a life of its own.

BS: How do you know when you have a winning promo spot? What’s the secret formula? What objectives do you always try to hit, or what do you always keep in mind, when coming up with the creative?

SS: Here is what I think is a good formula to a winning promo:

  • The right team.
  • A clear brief and direction (what it is we want to communicate and what we want to achieve)
  • Research (know your product, know your target, know what works, know what is current, know what has been done)
  • A great script (a good balance between creativity and messaging)
  • The right production (director, art director, music, post production, graphics)
  • Time (having enough time to think, to plan, to produce, to give feedback)
  • Risk (You need to fail if you want to succeed)
  • Freedom (a spot made by a committee is a formula for failure)
  • Luck (sometime it just comes down to this)

BS: Comedy Central just launched in Latin America this past February. How is the channel doing so far?

SS: Comedy Central Latin America is doing great. So far we are having a strong year in terms of content and distribution, and our audience has really embraced the brand. The great thing about Comedy Central from a communication perspective is its name – people understand right away what the channel is, even in Spanish, so it makes my job easier.

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