Marketing to Women: Finding Humor in Politics

November 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

President Barack Obama laughs during the tapin...

President Barack Obama laughs during the taping of his appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman” in New York, Monday, September 21, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few years ago I started noticing a trend in some of the research I was conducting with women.  When I asked questions about news preferences, some new sources began creeping in.  Women would say, “I don’t really watch the news.  Most of what I know comes from Jon Stewart.”  This phenomenon is why we are regularly seeing candidates on shows like The Daily Show, David Letterman and The Tonight Show.  And why candidates are polishing their comedic skills.

Maybe if the last presidential election was about social media, this one is about entertainment value.

Pew Research recently verified this trend along with some other new sources.  Some 12% said they “regularly get” their political news from comedy shows, up from 9% when Pew began surveying American voters at the beginning of the year.  And if you were wondering, there seems to be no difference in Democratic or Republican voters.

When you look at young adults, you find that 15 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds regularly learned campaign news from late-night comedy shows, compared to the 12 percent that got their information from network news programs or the 11 percent who relied on their local newspaper.

Who is the target of the most jokes?

The Center for Media and Public Affairs’ (CMPA) latest study finds that late night TV talk-show comedians love joking about Mitt Romney, and that the GOP is the target of jokes more than twice as often as Democrats. From August 27 to October 3, 2012, the GOP presidential candidate was the target of 148 jokes in monologues delivered by Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson; there were 62 jokes about President Obama in that period.  And, if you were wondering, David Letterman tells more jokes about Romney than Obama by a five-to-one margin.

In a recent study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, researchers cataloged every joke told about a political figure onThe Tonight Show With Jay Leno, The Late Show With David Letterman, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart over an eight-month period in 2010. They found that 9 percent of the 1,625 jokes were about President Obama.  In 2002, Republican President George W. Bush was in 10 percent of their jokes. Bill Clinton was the most often skewered back in 1994, when he was the butt of talk-show jokes 15 percent of the time.

President Obama and Governor Romney have both participated in the joke slinging.  Their performances at the the Alfred E. Smith Dinner, the Catholic Archdiocese of New York’s annual charity benefit, were funny, engaging and a lighthearted break from this long and fitful campaign.

Humor seems to be important in our choice of political news.  Some 55% of registered voters have watched political videos online during this election year and more than a third have watched humorous videos and parodies.   Among registered voters who use the internet:

  • 48% watch video news reports about the election or politics
  • 40% watch previously recorded videos of candidate speeches, press conferences, or debates
  • 39% watch informational videos online that explain a political issue
  • 37% watch humorous or parody videos dealing with political issues
  • 36% watch political advertisements online
  • 28% watch live videos of candidate speeches, press conferences, or debates

Videos are highly social.  Some 52% of registered voters say that other people have recommended political videos for them to watch this election season, with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter being a source of recommendation.

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