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Full Throttle for 'Trucker'

Comedy Central is pouring promotional juice into a show executives believe will draw viewers among both the political humor junkies dialing into The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, as well as aficionados of The Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

The series, The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show, is the spawn of a Los Angeles stage show created by its stars, David Koechner (Anchorman: The Ron Burgundy Story) as T-Bones and David “Gruber” Allen as the naked, guitar-strumming trucker.

MTVN PRIORITY

“It's sort of the Smothers Brothers meets Jack Kerouac,” said Peter Risafi, Comedy Central senior vice president of brand marketing and executive creative director. Given its potential crossover appeal, the series has been deemed an MTV Networks corporate priority, subject to one of the biggest promotional pushes the network will make this year.

The show features the travels of the free-spirited Naked Trucker and his friend, who met “in a desert flare-gun accident.” They ride across the country in an 18-wheeler in search of “good times, friendly faces and questionable cargo,” according to production notes. Episodes will feature “censor-defying songs” and possible celebrity hitchhikers picked up along the way.

The trucker is protected at all times with a well-placed guitar.

“Only Comedy Central would [feature] a straight man who's totally naked with only a guitar to cover his assets and liabilities,” laughed Risafi.

Promotion of the series, which debuts Jan. 17, began in November, when spots were inserted in the Nov. 15 season finale of South Park. Since then, the network has created “My American Dream,” a music video featuring the pair. They've also appeared in shows on other networks, such as Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, singing the song. Sample this mental image created by the song: T-Bones describes a perfect day in which he munched on peyote buds dipped in ranch dressing.

The music video has been placed on such locations as YouTube, where early last Wednesday the short had recorded about 2,000 hits.

In keeping with Comedy Central's reputation for creative campaigns, and the goofy nature of the show itself, the promotional tactics range from the common — cross-channel spots across MTVN channels — to the wacky: portable potties at the Jan. 1 Cotton Bowl in Dallas were shrink-wrapped with images from the show.

Signage, including tune-in information, was also posted in New York City subway cars and delivery trucks in 10 markets. The show also has benefited from exposure on Los Angeles billboards.

ROSE BOWL REBUFF

Not every strategy brainstormed by the network marketing team made it to the multimedia campaign, according to Risafi. Comedy mulled the idea of a portable truck-stop that staffers could deploy in various cities, but it was deemed too cumbersome and spiked. Comedy Central also approached the Rose Bowl committee about signage at that Jan. 1 bowl game, but was rebuffed. Unlike those in Dallas, event planners in Pasadena, Calif., thought that the vision of a nearly naked man would be too jarring for family football fans, Risafi related.

The network has also partnered with DVD mail service Netflix to place tune-in ads in up to 1 million mailers, targeting consumers who've rented comedy titles such as My Name is Earl, King of the Hill, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Anchorman: The Ron Burgundy Story.