Marketing 5 min read

John Oliver's Pet Rabbit Marlon Bundo is Influencer Marketing at its Best

A cartoon of John Oliver | Inspiring |

A cartoon of John Oliver | Inspiring |

By now, you might have heard of the increasingly famous pet rabbit by the name of Marlon Bundo.

This isn’t just any pet rabbit: it is Vice President Mike Pence’s pet rabbit. The Pence family recently published a children’s book about their pet rabbit. The book is entitled, A Day in the Life of The Vice President.

Most famous for his appearances on The Daily Show and his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver’s take on the life of Marlon Bundo differs a bit from that of the Pence family’s.

Nevertheless, John Oliver’s book is the #3 most sold book on Amazon as of March 22nd. That makes John Oliver an influencer, right? As we have covered, the impact of influencer marketing is hugely useful right now.

Read More: Why the Biggest Companies use Influencer Marketing

How do journalists and personalities like John Oliver and Jake Tapper “go viral”?

Marlon Bundo: A Pet Rabbit, a Rabbit, an Icon

Anyone who is remotely familiar with John Oliver’s HBO show knows that he is critical of the current administration. His latest segment, linked above, focused specifically on Vice President Mike Pence.

John Oliver parodied the Pence book and created A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.

As Oliver says (and I agree), Marlon Bundo is an objectively good name for a pet rabbit. But this isn’t just a comedian making a joke out of his ideological opponent.

The truly fascinating aspect of this parody has been its overwhelming effect on internet attention and eCommerce.

A Children’s Book About Two Male Rabbits Goes Viral

What fascinates us isn’t in the book itself, but how John Oliver’s audience reacted to it.

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo ousted James Comey’s memoir on Amazon’s best-seller list on March 19th. It sold 180,000 copies in just two days and John Oliver has confirmed that more are being printed.

But this isn’t the first time something from Last Week Tonight has gone viral. John Oliver has a history of inspiring this kind of action.

All Points in Charisma: How Last Week Tonight Motivates Others

Three years ago, John Oliver used his platform of Last Week Tonight to motivate people to protect Net Neutrality.

Unfortunately, he had to do it again in 2017. The Net Neutrality debate aside, we’re more concerned with the sheer volume of impact Oliver’s show had.

Just as with the response to Oliver’s Marlon Bundo, fans flocked to the FCC’s website after Oliver implored them to act. Commenters posted more than 45,000 comments before the website ultimately crashed.

image of John Oliver on Last Week Tonight for article Marlon Bundo: John Oliver's Kid's Book Features a Famous Pet Rabbit
Last Week Tonight | HBO via Gipyhy

John Oliver Incites Trolls for Good Against FCC

As mentioned, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo sold 180,000 copies in just two days. If John Oliver decides to champion a cause, his following is generally loyal and motivated in their responses. Why is this?

You can say what you like about his personal qualities. Whether you agree with him or disagree with him in terms of politics and social issues, content marketers and those wishing to build an audience should take note of his strategy.

John Oliver has built a system designed to increase audience engagement and leverage user-generated content in one fun package.

Read More: How to Grow your Business with User-generated Content

image of Jake Tapper on Conan for article Marlon Bundo: The Famous Pet Rabbit in John Oliver's New Book
Jake Tapper on Conan via Giphy

Jake Tapper also shares this unique feature — so much so that “almost everyone likes him”. He can catalyze an interview into a viral headline in seconds. Related Gifs are all over the internet.

People like Jake Tapper and John Oliver have the power to influence their audience. So much so that John Oliver’s audience bought 180,000 copies of a book in two days. Jake Tapper has been parodied on SNL many times.

Even if you don’t like them, you have to admit that they’re influential. They’ve taken this influence, television, and the Internet and social media to create a feedback loop that has a real impact on the world around them.

Selling almost 200,000 copies of a book in two days isn’t so bad for the program itself, either.

What Journalists Teach us About Modern Digital Marketing

Last Week Tonight has been hovering around a .5 Nielsen rating for the 18-49-year-old age demographic. We hope it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that his show attracts a predominately millennial audience.

How does he motivate the millennial generation so well?

Forbes labeled “transparency” the path to marketing to millennials, and we tend to agree with them.

Using influencers is a way to enhance transparency via sincerity and relatability. So, it’s no surprise that 81% of marketers using influencer marketing nowadays.

If journalists leveraged their sincerity with their audience to ends like crashing the FCC website, maybe it is time to consider adopting some of their tactics.

What did you think of the story of the pet rabbit Marlon Bundo and Wesley?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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