Until yesterday, I don't think I had heard about an online series called "Between Two Ferns," hosted by comic actor Zach Galifianakis, possibly best-known for his role in the sophomoric "The Hangover."
But I'm not part of the demographic target that the White House is trying to reach with messages about the Affordable Healthcare Act. The success of the President's initiative depends partly on younger people -- Millennials -- signing on so their premiums can help offset benefits that will be paid out largely to the older demos like me and my peers.
So I'd say it was a smart move to have President Obama go on the edgy comic talk show and submit to the intentionally rude and bizarre questioning by Galifianakis, whose questions included "How does it feel to be the last black President of the U.S.?"
The interview was so strange and far from the norm for the President that it got tons of views, largely by the younger people that the White House has been trying to reach -- people who are probably not watching the shows where the President would normally appear, like the Sunday morning news shows. Far beyond the program's normal viewership of perhaps hundreds of thousands, viral pickup of the interview has taken the total audience well above seven million so far, and there's sure to be lots more as the story gets out via both mainstream media and social media.
This is a good example of an important marketing tactic -- go where your target audience is. A story in The New York Times calls this "the latest public relations gamble that Mr. Obama and his aides have taken in their pursuit of new ways to deliver their message to the connected-but-distracted generation."
And it looks like it's paying off, with some 20,000 visits to the Obamacare website within just a few hours after the interview first went up. Smart.