Erin’s Blog

Obama on “The Tonight Show”!

Maybe it was just me, but I was seriously excited for President Barack Obama to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night. I had missed my usual Thursday night lineup of Kath & Kim, The Office, and 30 Rock but I taped the latter (Kath & Kim wasn’t on…boo!) As soon as I got home I watched my two shows and flipped to Leno just in time to see the President appear. “Hail to the Chief” began playing, the crowd started cheering, and I ran to wake up my sleeping friends…it was a big deal. History was made last night, people!

While may only offer clips of the history-making interview, offers the entire episode. had a great article about the interview and in fact mentioned that maybe Leno would want to bring President Obama back to his interview chair. “The president’s visit scored an 11.2 rating in metered-market households. That’s the highest number since January 2005, when ‘Tonight’ paid tribute to the late Johnny Carson. The last time ‘Tonight’ logged a higher rating was following the ‘Seinfeld’ series finale in May 1998. Thursday’s telecast nearly tripled the show’s season-average 3.9 household rating.”

For a show that often gets big names, and big laughs, that jump in ratings points is HUGE! Considering Jay Leno is leaving The Tonight Show this year, perhaps he’ll have more high-profile guests on the show besides his usual assortment of actors and musicians?

The article continues, saying “While Obama appeared on The Tonight Show as a candidate, none of his predecessors had ever appeared on the show – or any other late-night talk show – while in office. ‘In a way, going on The Tonight Show is Barack Obama’s version of the fireside chat,’ said Michael Beschloss, a noted presidential historian. Obama was seeking to ‘get his serious points across…in a way that, presumably, Americans are going to like.'”

While Obama and Leno shared a few jokes (most notably about not getting the hard fouls in basketball since becoming the leader of the free world or not being allowed to walk the 750 yards to the Costa Mesa by his secret service), most of the interview was serious. They discussion stayed focused on the current economy and the AIG controversy. “Most of the stuff that got us into trouble is perfectly legal,” Obama said. “That’s a sign that we need to change our laws.”

While this may have been the first time an acting President has ever visited late-night television, it is certainly not the first time someone running for the Presidency has visited the set of a late-night show. This Today video shows a little history of candidate’s use of late-night television shows:

Who knew Richard Nixon had a sense of humor?

May I just say that despite one’s political, religious, economic, etc. beliefs, we, as marketing and advertising students or professionals, need to take a minute and realize the impact President Barack Obama has made on both the campaign process and the role of the President. No other presidential candidate in history has spent money on in-game advertising (read an old post of mine entitled Subliminal Advertising, In-Game Advertising, and Product Placement: What’s The Deal?)

Obama and his campaign team used new and non-traditional media like crazy during his campaign and are even now continuing to reach the American people in ways that we may feel most comfortable. Yes, we could watch C-SPAN. Yes, we could watch Obama talk at a podium during press conferences. But wouldn’t you rather watch him on a late-night show you were going to watch anyway that may provide a few smiles here and there? I vote late night.

The time’s they are a-changin’ people, and Obama, despite what you may or may not believe he’s doing for our country, has spurred a dramatic shift in the way the President relates to his or her American people!