Conan O’Brien may be the uncola of late night television, but last night he was all about coke — the sickly sweet syrupy kind — in a disappointing preview of his new TBS show that fell far short of its hype.
The video, released on YouTube was under five minutes long and sponsor Coke Zero seemed to own the tape. It was a disappointing showing, considering O’Brien’s anti-corporate, underdog status during the upheaval at NBC that led to his departure from the “Tonight Show.”
But this being television and O’Brien exiled to late night cable on TBS, he probably needs to kiss up to any sponsor that will bear its ass. This morning the critics had their knives out.
“So how did O’Brien reward his online fans with last night’s ‘Show Zero,’ touted as a full warm-up show that would stream for fans on YouTube, TeamCoco.com, and Facebook?” asked New York magazine.
“With … dated comedy and embarrassingly overt product placement. Uh-oh,” it answered.
It’s probably no surprise that O’Brien is falling victim to his own well-played, if over-played and over-hyped demise.
As far as late night television goes, he was never that far removed from the same old shtick that Jay Leno and David Letterman rely on night after night — from the house band to the opening monologue.
After all, doing a daily show is a tough grind. And, in the end, Conan wants to be successful.
So get used to the corporate pandering, and a more corporate Coco.
While it’s unlikely that he will ever top the mainstream talk shows in the ratings, he can laugh all the way to the bank by bringing big-name sponsors to obscure TBS.
But to do that, O’Brien must promise to deliver a young, hip audience.
Yet, therein lies the dilemma. That’s exactly who is turned off by corporate pandering and product placement.
Good luck, Coco. Check out his spot here: