Posts Tagged ‘ITV’

Dorries’ Jungle Stunt Takes Balls

Before even gobbling down her first kangaroo gonad, Tory Nadine Dorries has unleashed a storm of criticism for her decision to appear in televisual Hades I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, with David Cameron yesterday backing her suspension from her duties as MP.  A rash of politicos have been quick to follow suit.

But let’s not be too quick to dismiss her stunt. It’s a bold move, and I applaud her bravery. As we know from her outspoken stance on abortion in 2011, Dorries’ is not a woman afraid of the limelight. Appearing in a show like this takes guts, and it is heartening to see a politician willing to take a risk, particularly in a week that has seen political paranoia ramped up to the max in the wake of Savilegate, resulting in the retrospective inquiry into the allegations of child abuse in North Wales.

She has taken advantage of an opportunity to bring her brand to a younger generation who feel disconnected with politics. Play her hand well, and she could genuinely change the way an apathetic public think about politicians, or even prompt them to think about them at all. In the jungle, she will have a space to air her views in terms the man in the street will relate to- and with 16 million watching, it is a platform not to be sniffed at. Whether the timbre of her stance on sexual politics will resonate with ordinary people remains to be seen.

It’s a high risk move. She has perhaps underestimated the power of the edit. The ultimate winners will of course be ITV, who have once again served up a compelling cast of those blinded by fame and ambition; a collection of individuals worthy of Greek tragedy. Gifts from reality TV producers are rarely what they seem and should be handled with care.

As far as Dorries goes, the proof of the pudding will lie in the eating. Will she have the personality, wit and humanity to survive and prosper in the jungle?  Or will she ultimately prove as unpalatable as a scorpion’s scrotum?

The Voice vs BGT: Cowell’s Monopoly on Showmanship

However much we hate him, anyone even vaguely interested in the saccharine world of Saturday Night Telly needs to say a quick prayer at the altar of Simon Cowell. Whatever side you came down on, the whole BGT/The Voice battle proved that, as an individual and a brand, he drives the whole weekend entertainment market more or less single handedly.

With both sides claiming victory and analysts still picking over the remains, the ratings battle between BGT and The Voice was a close call. While BGT won the peak ratings prize with 11.5m viewers, The Voice managed to sustain figures during its 20 minute overlap with BGT, showing that Cowell’s property didn’t entice many viewers away.

However, the publicity battle was clearly dominated by one man alone.  You can’t manufacture, train or interview for a showbiz force like Cowell. For all his slick, cultivated grouchiness, he is approachable. Like the great capitalist showmen before him- PR Barnum and Gordon Selfridge to name two- he befriends journalists and makes himself available naturally, without looking desperate, and without needing to concede too many favours.

As a consequence, when he went in guns blazing to the pre-show PR wrangling, the results were staggering. From a few artfully handled nubs about his sense of humour failure on Jonathan Ross (which served the purpose of placing Cowell firmly on his pedestal as well as re-establishing the funnyman profile of David Walliams), to his threats to ‘poach’ Jessie J, he brought the firepower, and the papers lapped it up. I don’t think I’d realised until now how much The X Factor suffered from his absence.

The Voice is a great show, and a much quoted tweet of mine describing it as ‘too complicated’ was overly hasty- this is a real grower. However, I hope they learn a sharp lesson from this- the beast of compliance creates caution, which numbs the sense of promotion. As Dan Wootton tweeted on Friday, the lengths the BBC went to to play down the importance of ratings were fascinating. With spend on the programme reaching 22million, the pretence was farcical- evidence only of the beeb’s lack of publicity balls.

With outlets like the BBC dominated by an obscurantist, executive driven culture, where is the next Cowell? Whether the thought of another fills you with dread or fervour, you can’t deny that a publicity punch-up between the two is just the sugar rush the Saturday night chatter has been waiting for.

Orange Skirts, Flying Midgets and the World Cup

Ever heard of the beer Bavaria? Me neither, until FIFA made sure that absolutely everyone got to hear about it after Bavaria sent a team of pretty young female ambush marketeers to Holland’s opening match of the World Cup using tickets bought in the name of (now ex-) ITV pundit Robbie Earle.

One sacking, several arrests (ambush marketing being illegal in South Africa) and a barrel-full of free publicity for Bavaria later and the only clear winner is the beer company, although the attractive young ladies – already described as ‘blonde bombshells’ in tabloids and blogs – will probably enjoy their day in court. Read the rest of this entry »

Great Apes! The Fame Formula on X Factor

Some of the contestants in the X Factor, wanting to learn a thing or two about the publicity tricks of the past to help get them through the tough new auditions system, (where they have to face not only the barbed comments of Simon Cowell and co, but the baying of a full-throttle audience out for carefully-packaged blood) have turned to the Fame Formula for ideas, it seems, as this picture from the ITV website proves.


Look carefully at the hands of the ape on the right...

A hug from Danni and Simon may be all very well, but it seems that The Fame Formula is the hardened fame seeker’s reference book of choice when it comes to helping build the courage to leap onto the first greasy rung of the ladder of stardom. Personally, I can’t help hoping that some more audition hopefuls will, er… ape these guys and go out and buy the book…

The guys from Bragster, the social networking site for daredevils, were the ones dressed in the gorilla suits, braving the raised eyebrows of Cowell and co. The site’s boss Bertrand was dared to take part by his colleagues, with £1000 going to charity on the condition that he get a hug from one of the main judges. Here’s a link to some footage of him in action on the ITV website – I particularly like his version of I Want to Be Like You…

The Ape Fame Cometh

Sofa Wars

The King and Queen of Morning TV have been ripped apart in a plot worthy of Shakespeare. Money, greed, deceit, jealousy, subterfuge and high drama are driving this scenario, as if an excitable new scriptwriter with grand designs has been drafted in to rescue a failing soap. The vigour is intoxicating. Fern Britton has quit This Morning because she is fed up with being in Philip Schofield’s shadow. The screaming headlines are a sub-editor’s wet dream; Fern’s sensational walkout has fractured her relationship with ITV chiefs.

Rows in TV are fantastic copy for the dailies, but never a good thing for the talent; they’re often a wounding career move. I have been on This Morning once or twice and I like both Fern and Philip. I think they are both terrific broadcasters and stand shoulder to shoulder in the talent stakes.

Perhaps, if there is one factor that separates them, it’s that one embraces the modern techniques of digital PR and the other doesn’t. Far too simplistic you cry, but is it really? If we know one thing, it’s that the digital PR space is a subtle knife, which has unfathomable, hidden depths, which can sharpen a celebrity’s ability to persuade and inform.

We are not privy to the fine detail of the true row between Fern and ITV – it will be left to the unnamed friends and spokespeople to whisper into eager ears to keep this particular soap opera on the pages of the red tops. The hullabaloo will undoubtedly pick up pace over the weekend – until boredom sets in – but I believe it has lessons to teach us all in the game of brand husbandry.

Philip Schofield is a keen advocate of the digital space. He has a lively blog and a refined online presence. He uses Twitter well and is building a profile that is both honest and engaging. There is also a hint of vulnerability in his Tweets. We see his brand through a prism of tweets and the Twitter folk cherish his banter as he moves through cyberspace like a weekend charity half marathon runner.

Twenty years ago, his brand of celebrity would have been engaged in constant fete openings, ready with a smile and oodles of time to sign autographs for ladies of a certain vintage. But Scofe is a hands-on collaborator in the digital PR process and has generated a subliminal channel of support as a result. Perhaps this consideration suggests that he has a real hunger to remain relevant and that he recognises what it takes to stay ahead. No wonder people are paying top dollar for his services.

I would suggest that there is no complacency in Scofe’s world, just a craving not to be mutton dressed as mutton. Fern, on the other hand, has perhaps suffered from being a little too relaxed; she was certainly bruised by her unfair treatment at the hands of the News of the World. Her only crime was a lack of transparency regarding her weight loss, but negative press can create disconnection and a mistrust of the process. Scofe, however, has built the tools to reinforce his brand value whereas Fern feels like a superpower with a rusting arsenal of weapons, hampering her ability to fight back. I pray she doesn’t become a footnote – she has a crowd of support but she needs to source it!

Another TV talent who has proved that he can rise above the fug of negativity with the same tools is Jonathan Ross. I was not surprised when he received a BAFTA nomination. He too has created a virality and herd that has interacted with his brand since he started using Twitter. It’s a new dawn for celebrity engagement – the writing is on the virtual wall.

The analogue media should be looking over their shoulders; it might well be fortuitous that the This Morning bust up is played out today. But in the future the stars will have their own digital media to drive their brands forward without the perilous media high-wire walk.