Amy Aussieker takes celebrity crush to a whole new level.
The founder and owner of FABO Café, an art gallery on Selwyn Avenue, launched a national campaign to land Comedy Central headliner, faux-newscaster and Daily Show star Jon Stewart into her store when he is in town for the Democratic National Convention.
The former sales and marketing executive for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce established FABO, short for Fabulous Art Buying Opportunities, in 2009 as a portable gallery that could show up at home parties. Today her eclectic shop features artwork, handmade jewelry and accessories all offered alongside tasty pastries and coffee drinks.
Motivated in part by a real infatuation with Stewart and in part to conduct an over-the-top marketing and promotional campaign, Aussieker is leaving few stones unturned in her quest to bring Stewart into her shop for a muffin and a cup-o-Joe.
"When I learned of Charlotte landing the DNC in the fall of 2011, I knew I wanted to hold some related events here at FABO," Aussieker said. "I'm a huge fan of the Daily Show. In talking with friends the idea came up to launch a 'stalking' campaign and harness the power of social and traditional media in gaining attention for the cause."
Rather than reach out directly to Daily Show producers or Stewart's publicist, Aussieker is hopeful her indirect campaign will generate so much media buzz that the comedian will all but have to come to satisfy his own curiosity and the groundswell of supporters clamoring for his appearance.
One stop at FABO and visitors are immediately clued in to the unique and no-holds-barred approach the somewhat zany proprietor has undertaken.
Jon's John is the name of the ladies restroom at FABO, where the walls are covered with pleas from customers imploring Stewart to drop by while in town. She sells post cards that feature Stewart's mug and encourages whoever buys one to take a picture with it. The shots of "Lil John" are then featured on a map online. She sells custom Stalking Stewart T-shirts and even has string dolls of the diminutive funny man.
Her cause has gotten quite a bit of attention though none yet from the funny guy himself.
"I get calls from across the country daily, even one a gentleman named Jon Stewart in New York," she said. "He wasn't that Jon Stewart, but it was fun to chat none the less."
The Stalking Stewart campaign has its own Facebook page with several hundred followers, Twitter accounts and was featured on a local TV station. She even got some air time on a FOX radio show. Charlotte Business Journal Table Talk gave it a nod, and mention was made in the Charlotte Observer. When comedian and Daily Show regular John Oliver was in town recently for a comedy show, Aussieker gave him a basket of goodies from her shop and asked for a personal appeal to his "boss" to drop by. Oliver indicated he'd do his best.
Stalking Stewart even has its own "stalking team," loaded with local media savvy professionals who are bringing their expertise and advice to the campaign.
When Kelly Koeppel, president of the local creative agency k2forma, learned of the campaign on television, she was impressed.
"It's cool that she's doing something so irreverent," said Koeppel, 35. "We're all so damn serious all the time. Here's a woman who's having a little fun, and I think that's awesome."
Koeppel was so impressed that when she learned Aussieker had not secured tickets to any of the Daily Show tapings here, she volunteered to take her as a guest.
"I thought it was crazy that this woman who had put so much effort into something had been shut out of tickets," Koeppel said. "I thought that if anyone in this city should go, it should be Amy."