John Oliver Is Educating Trump on Major Issues With D.C. Ad Buy During Morning Cable News Shows

First spot, about the nuclear triad, aired Monday morning

John Oliver's faux “Catheter Cowboy” spot will run locally in D.C. during all three cable news morning shows. HBO
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Several people have figured out that the best way to get a message to President Trump is to do so via a TV program he is likely to watch, but no one has gone to the lengths that John Oliver has to get a television-based message to the president.

On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the first new episode since Trump’s inauguration, Oliver revealed that his show has arranged to run a Trump-targeted ad locally in the Washington D.C. market on all three cable news shows Monday morning, between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Oliver made the announcement during a segment on the show called “Trump vs. Truth,” about Trump’s reliance on information gleaned from dubious and often false outlets like Brietbart and Infowars, and his alarming tendency to lie about easily-debunked topics such as his inauguration crowd size, much as he did for a decade about the ratings for his NBC series, Celebrity Apprentice.

“The notion that our leaders should be able to pass on mistruths with impunity should be alarming to absolutely everybody, regardless of politics,” said Oliver, who noted that the president often tweets about topics that have aired on one of the morning news shows just minutes earlier.

But because Trump probably doesn’t watch his HBO show, “there is one small way we wanted to try and sneak some useful facts into his media diet,” said Oliver. “As we now know, he watches morning cable news for information, so we’ve actually created a series of commercials in an attempt to bring him up to speed on some information he may lack. We’re going to run them on shows that we know he watches every day.”

The spot is a send-up of Medical Direct Club’s “Catheter Cowboy” spot, which also runs on cable news and features a “professional cowboy” who talks about using catheters. Oliver’s faux ad offers some information about the nuclear triad to Trump, who flubbed a question about the topic during a Republican primary debate in December 2015.

In the first spot, the cowboy says, “There’s two things I know: I don’t like pain when I ‘cath,’ and the nuclear triad consists of land-based missiles, submarine-launched missiles and aerial bombers. This increases our ability to strike back in the event one of those is destroyed, and deters an attack on us or our allies. So that’s the nuclear triad, in case you’re the kind of person who might really need to know that.”

You can see the spot and Oliver’s explanation for it starting at the 21:11 mark:

A message at the bottom of the spot reads, “Paid for by Partially Important Productions, LLC.”

Here is the real “Catheter Cowboy” spot that inspired Oliver’s ad:

Oliver said his ad will air Monday morning between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. in the D.C. area during MSNBC’s Morning Joe, CNN’s New Day and Fox News’ Fox & Friends.

Update: HBO said Monday afternoon that the ads did indeed run Monday morning at the following times: CNN, 8:50 a.m.; MSNBC, 8:29 a.m.; Fox News, 8:48 a.m.

And there are plenty more spots ready to go, unless Oliver’s ad buy ends up being pulled. “Until we’re shut down, we’re prepared to educate Donald Trump one by one, on topics we’re pretty sure he doesn’t know about,” he said.

He showed clips of spots planned for later in the week featuring the same actor, which touch on topics like the Geneva Convention, global warming, how the unemployment rate is calculated and the fact that “not all black people live in the inner cities, and not all people in the inner cities are black.” And because Oliver hosts a comedy show, one spot helps Trump identify the name of his younger daughter (Tiffany) as well as the location of a certain part of the female anatomy. “Just remember, Donald, if you don’t know, it’s okay to ask,” the actor says. “See you tomorrow.”

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.