When he got wind of it the other week, my business partner – who is, by his own admission, bald and sad – hot-footed it up to the North Pole in the hope of a flesh-to-flesh encounter with Kylie Minogue.
The North Pole in this instance being a rail depot in NW8, where a hot crew from a cool agency were shooting an ad with the seriously sexy sex-bomb Kylie on behalf of a train company that takes passengers under the sea to Paris – it’s not good form to mention Eurostar’s name, it might be seen as PR (especially as it’s one of my clients, StuntWatch ed).
He got within three carriages of her, and watched a 3″ colour-monitor live shot of her body double sitting at a table for 50 minutes, before he had to leave to pick up his kids from nursery.
Asked if he’d have expended equal, and so blatantly speculative energy, on the off-chance of grabbing a moment with Posh Spice, he was outraged. Outraged because it had to be explained to him that Posh Spice is the name of someone he knows as Victoria Beckham, and outraged because Posh Victoria – he says – is not sexy, or if she is, she’s not sexy with integrity, she’s too self-conscious, and anyway she’s not an individual, she’s 50% of a rather staid, but certainly rather rich, and at least 50% highly talented couple, but still Mr and Mrs Happily Married and Boring, whatever.
Let’s try to impose some order on the rabid tirade of a sorely frustrated and possibly demented old man. First up, it can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that it was Kylie v Posh chart war week. Whose single would win? Actually, the music is largely immaterial: what matters is what it looks like. Image is the issue and Posh hasn’t the image to cut it any longer in the charts, particularly against someone so spectacularly adroit at identity management as Kylie.
Posh was Spice, and then she became Victoria Beckham, wife of an excellent and hard-working young man who earns a respectable living as a talented footballer. Initially it was a bit of a suspect celebrity coupling (of course it can’t last) that shifted into a firmer relationship (it definitely won’t last) and then moved into marriage (I don’t give it two years), Brooklyn (aaah!), mansions (lovely) and domestic bliss (bless!).
At which point there’s not much to say. We want our stars to live lives of non-stop, high-profile, high-energy drama and excitement. We want them out there, for us. We don’t want their long-term, loving relationships. After all, we can have one of those ourselves, or at least we’ll know someone who has, and long-term loving just isn’t good news. Vix and Becks snuggle up on Parky, and it’s clear we’re now looking at celebrity couple number one – nice kids, nice life, really nice, actually, which is nice.
So when Posh tries to turn on the dangerous, alluring, alley-cat sex stuff on video or on stage, in a head to head with Kylie, it reads as an utterly contrived, and frankly faintly silly bit of nonsense to sell a single. In any case, we wouldn’t really want to think we were lusting after our mate’s Mrs, would we? Especially when he’s so good at football.
Kylie, on the other hand, is single. She’s overtly sexy, without being over-threatening. She’s had a bit of a lively past, from goody two shoes to rock chick, and round the houses. She’s a bit secretive, a bit mysterious, there’s a visceral frisson, there’s some kind of promise, it even makes my business partner think “Well, you never know”. She’s a fantasy figure.
What’s most interesting from a PR point of view is how her ability to reinvent herself – and reinvent herself she has – is not perceived as cynical or exploitative. It’s actually seen as indicative of her integrity, as an artist and as an individual. That’s because there’s a single thematic strand that runs through it all. She’s oh-so-excruciatingly close but unattainable (or perhaps, in someone’s wildest dreams she isn’t – why else would someone travel to the North Pole on the off-chance of seeing her?) By contrast, Posh changes her image, but we all know we’re actually looking at Mrs Bucket wearing suspenders. Which is both ludicrous and seriously unattractive.
Where’s the stunt? It’s the on-going stunt of celebrity. I’d give Kylie’s team 8.6 on the stunt meter. My sad bald business partner gives them 10.5, but only because he thinks Kylie might fancy him as a result.