We live in a world where more people care about the daily activities of another rather than learning about something of intellect. Turn on the television, flip through the channels and a moderately attractive person is covered in make up on the screen telling you about how so-and-so’s new body is perfect for summer. It’s an ongoing joke that everything Oprah touches turns to gold. Internet Blogger Perez Hilton makes a sizeable living off of providing thousands of readers with daily gossip and content related to the lifestyles of celebrities. Kim Kardashian is considered a multi-million dollar franchise, as her personal brand alone generates outstanding consumer sales. Simply because over other pressing matters in the media, people care more about what others are doing with their lives; eating, drinking, wearing, absolutely everything. Every product that Kim Kardashian is seen with thrives in sales simply because of her consumer following. As a public figure, she is a living mannequin for nearly every single industry in the international market place. Others are catching on to this and are now creating more senseless programming such as The World According to Paris. Even as public figures utilize services such as rehab, psychiatrists, and massage therapists, these professions are receiving media exposure so that such services will of interest to more consumers. Without a living and breathing face, products, brands, and services would have difficultly being integrated into society.
The importance of a talk show in today’s modern society is not to generate original dialogue; it is not to provide an outlet for the American public to relate to, but rather to build new consumer and behavioral habits off of a given brand. I know that others may be quick to question this idea I am bringing to the table, but truly think about it. Celebrities are nothing but Barbie dolls. They are faces behind societal movements. They are tools into drawing the public into the advertising industries plans of action. The Morning Show, The View, and Anderson Cooper are just examples of shows that use dialogue and conversation to bring awareness to political activism which inevitably brings attention to brands and products. Sponsors use strategic product placement and request for certain conversation topics to be mentioned on air as a means of generating discussion about a particular brand or product. This same tactic is used with talk radio, as hosts and callers “discretely” do plugs for companies that are funding airtime. By mentioning a security system (or something else) in the middle of a heated discussion, listeners are thrown off from the normal programming and exposed to a conversation about a product.
I noticed this during an event that took place on campus that I attended to conduct research for a financial literacy project I was working on at that time. From my understanding, in order to best approach how to reach a key public it is important to look at its consumer habits and interests. These reflect the population’s mindset in regards to monetary priority and reasons to consider new purchases. A key component in approaching this is by taking into consideration local, national and international public figures. Public figures are used to connect to different populations based off ethnicity, sexuality, sociological and economic status, religious background, and consumer interests. Based off of my research, I have found that people tend to follow by direction of individuals world of mouth, rather than an entire corporation or organization. These messages are being transmitted through social media and entertainment. Facebook and Twitter are leading word of mouth communicators in Eugene and throughout the nation.
Managing Director of Oglivy, APR, and PRSA fellow Mickey G. Nall confirms this idea to be a driving force behind much of the company’s success. During a keynote he presented on the University of Oregon campus on May 4th, Nall stated that 80% of Americans make consumer based decisions from word of mouth discussions. Spokespeople are often needed for consumer generated content and events as these individuals gain the trust of the public in order to verify the validity of brands. Nall further discussed how consumer public relations drive brand-specific editorial coverage that focuses on the rational and emotional stories. This is why when creating a brand, it is important to make it relevant to the consumer. This means that the brand needs to link directly to the consumer’s life in order to link the brand to a specific platform. This is easily done through media and entertainment as celebrities are used to help familiarize a brand with a public. By doing so, consumers are more likely to trust the brand and are thus more likely to incorporate it into their lives. It is also important to utilize celebrity figures as media generates more media content. Popular news programming is more likely to use content from already known events and persons, as it will bring in a large viewing audience. Differentiation is also a key component in generating a consumer following; if something is more likely to stand out amongst the rest, it inevitably will succeed.
A perfect example of a thriving public figure would be Talk Show Host Ellen DeGeneres. Nall even concluded his presentation by stating that DeGeneres is a great place to put a brand, as she draws in her audience using awareness, engagement, and action with consumer habits. This assumption was supported during a live taping of the Ellen Show Fiesta Bowl at the University of Oregon. The show was also a giveaway to bring attention to an upcoming college football game. I chose to attend this event because Ellen DeGeneres is a prominent figure daytime television, and according to CoolSpotters.com she is a representative for many popular consumer brands and entertainment, not only nationally but in the Eugene community as well. Some of the names she represents are Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama, Mila Kunis, American Idol, WalMart, ABC, along with multiple other fashion lines and footwear. DeGeneres followers and supporters consumer traffic tends to be drawn towards brands she represents, which grows and varies based off of her business marketing decisions. This can be evaluated by the large attendance to multiple similar events she has hosted at the University of Oregon.
According to QuantCast, her website brings in traffic mostly from Caucasian females 18-50+ years old with no college background and have low incomes. I had observed that many who fit that demographic were in attendance at the event, along with young mothers, 18-25-year-old students, families, minorities, individuals with Christian religious backgrounds, and young engaged women. The event also brought in a large homosexuality supporting community as well, with over 300 people in attendance. Not to mention, the entire crowd came to the location based off of messages posted on Twitter for a college sporting event and Samsung giveaway. Because of DeGeneres, the Eugene public welcomed Samsung and college football into their lives. Because of a talk show host, brands were able to prosper to a vital key public in able to generate consumer sales.
As previously mentioned, this exact same tactic and approach to product branding is used in talk radio as well. Talk radio show hosts such as Glenn Beck and Lars Larson use product plugs constantly as a form of content during their shows. The side conversations they have with others in the station and callers conducts the same form of awareness as DeGeneres does during her show.
In today’s day and age in order for advertising to be successful, it must be orchestrated in a manner that is different from how it has been in the past. Consumers do not want to listen or watch media directly from a particular brand telling them to buy its product. The general public relies on recommendations from trusted figures when making purchases. In order for these recommendations to be heard, a conversation must be generated to make product discussion appropriate. Talk shows and radio are aware of this and continue to implement product conversation into programming.
Think about it, you yourself are a walking mannequin for brands. Every single time you open up your laptop in a public place and browse the web, you are providing free advertising and awareness about the products you use to those around you. Every time you buy food or drinks from a particular place, you are showing others that you choose that product over others. And every single time you mention any celebrity, product, or television show you are generating conversation about brands. Conversation runs the world, and bank accounts. Constant dialogue is not only needed to keep people entertained, but also to keep the economy in normal function. Thinking about starting your own business or need help advertising a new product? Don’t worry so much about paying tons of money for traditional marketing, but rather get out on the streets and start talking to the people you want to reach.