Strange Ads Promote an Author Who Isn’t Real and a Book That Doesn’t Exist

IFC's upcoming The Spoils of Bablyon, a comedy miniseries that spoofs serious miniseries, is based on a book that seems to be sold out in Hudson News stores around the country. The problem with keeping the book in stock, though, is that there were never any printed copies.

Eric Jonrosh (and the jig will be up when he shows up on TV and looks a lot like Will Ferrell, who produces the series along with the rest of the Funny or Die crew) is the megalomaniacal author of the book, and his persona has become the avatar of IFC's marketing for the show. "[Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, who wrote the series] created a character—well, we don't even like to call him a character," head of marketing Blake Callaway tells AdFreak. "We like to pretend he's real. We've written the fake book reviews. He's committed to literacy, because if you can't read, you can't read Jonrosh."

The writer's megalomaniacal streak is borne out in the ambitions of the miniseries, which appears to span a period from the 1930s to the 1980s, if the trailer (see below) is any indication. So IFC has an appropriately grandiose ad campaign, with the book-focused executions littering bookstores and branded Little Free Libraries installed in cities like Dallas and Minneapolis in partnership with that organization.

Callaway says he hopes to entice writers from the blockbuster-ier end of the literary spectrum to turn out for the show's Los Angeles premiere in January. "[James Patterson] is on our wish list," Callaway said. "Our fantasy list is to have Jackie Collins, Patterson, Grisham—we think they should turn out to celebrate their colleague."

Jonrosh has also been hard at work "reviewing" current best-sellers (especially those with movie versions) like Ender's Game—there's a certain amount of subtext to that one—in wildly inappropriate ways. The Wolf of Wall Street and Fifty Shades of Grey have also suffered his attentions.

As for the miniseries itself, Callaway said, "We're going back to the ABC marketing division of the '80s," à la Roots (which is getting a non-hilarious remake, as well). Makes sense: The show has an ensemble cast that includes unlikely names like Tobey Maguire, Val Kilmer and Haley Joel Osment, who's had something of a comeback this year between Spoils and Amazon's Alpha House.

The show, Callaway told AdFreak, will be an anthology series, like another popular cable offering. "This will kind of be our American Horror Story," he said. "Every year, we'll put another Eric Jonrosh novel on the screen." Sounds like a candidate for renewal.