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Comedy Central marketing guru talks strategy

Concordia grad Walter Levitt responsible for tickling millennials’ funny bones
July 13, 2015
By James Gibbons/Scott McCulloch

“A lot of factors play into the successful marketing of a piece of content,” says Walter Levitt, BA 93, chief marketing officer of American mega-entertainment brand Comedy Central.

Walter Levitt, BA 93 Walter Levitt, BA 93, chief marketing officer at Comedy Central

The Concordia Department of Communication Studies alumnus uses the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber as an example of the elements behind a successful broadcast.

“Part of the strategy was to release clips online prior to the roast. That helped make it this pop culture moment,” says Levitt.

It worked. The Comedy Central Roast of the Canadian pop star scored almost 10-million viewers when it aired March 30 this year.

Levitt, who joined New York City-based Comedy Central in 2011, notes that millennials are the company’s target audience — a group that consumes loads of content through mobile devices.

“We’re developing content for whichever platform people are using,” says Levitt. “We think of ourselves as a comedy-centric company, not a television-centric one.”

Part of Levitt’s typical day includes meeting with staff at Facebook and Twitter to help plot their multi-platform presence.

“We’ve even spoken to Apple to see if it might be worth developing an app for the new Apple Watch,” says Levitt. “We have to be anywhere people are looking to laugh.”

Prior to joining Comedy Central, Levitt worked for media companies including Canwest, Alliance Atlantic and CTV — all in Toronto.

On his biggest challenge transitioning to the American market, Levitt says: “In the United States, you always have to deal with someone’s agent. In Canada, you just call the talent directly. There are all these added layers.”

At the Concordia University Alumni Association’s New York Alumni Chapter event on May 13, Levitt invited fellow Concordians to take an inside look at the Comedy Central boardroom in the Big Apple.

Concordia has eight alumni chapters in the United States and 20 more chapters spanning the globe.

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