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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Reality TV PR meltdown

I was hoping not to comment on reality TV shows again for a while, but the PR battle could still go either way.

Jade Goody has, as predicted, started the interviews of contrition. This Morning being one example. Is was not easy viewing although I did learn a few new words, I think one is “unvunerable.” Being able to watch such things is a privilege of working for yourself!

I thought Jade would be able to limit the damage, she still might. However I had not banked on the reaction of the tabloid press. The Mirror is just one example of the unbending and forthright reaction: A bigot and a fake (ran the headline for Saturday). Sunday: My Jade is racist and a bully by her granny. Et tu Brute?

Even Jade admitted her career was over on This Morning although if she protested that it wasn’t it would have fuelled the tabloids even more.

The issue is whether Jade was warned by Big Brother. She is being coached of course. This has made the tabloids cry that the whole exercise is cynical. Such messages would mean that her PR would have to be magnificent and very lucky to rescue her career. Hard to be seen as natural when everyone knows you have a PR team behind you.

The PR battle will be over time. It will be one of attrition. It is one where she has to break into a tabloid and win them over and try to win over the others one by one. It looks like the bitter residue from this will not go away entirely, whatever PR is carried out, but she can still fight her corner as blanking the media would ensure their continued barrage.

The other protagonist facing the payback for Shilpagate is Channel 4. The Guardian on Saturday conducted a survey, which found that most people asked think that Channel 4 should have intervened and a quarter believed Channel 4 had manipulated the situation. Not only has Channel 4 lost sponsorship – principally Carphone Warehouse – but they have damaged their brand. Where has the intelligent, adventurous and respected programming strategy gone?

It should be noted that some of the outrage and reaction has been the inadvertent fault of Channel 4. Carole Malone, as reported by the Press Gazette, says that the editing of Big Brother is misleading. The bullying incidents were not 24 hours a day but the editing made it look that way.

If that was not enough reality TV show Shipwrecked - Channel 4 again - is in trouble after a contestant commented that slavery should be brought back. Only 60 complaints to Ofcom so far. She has also made comments about black, fat and gay people that she will regret. Click here for more.

I think they need to handle it like Simon Cowell. The US Pop Idol is continuing to draw audiences as Simon’s cutting comments provoke “outrage” from the others judges and the US press. Simon is man who knows the line and plays the game instinctively well.

And lastly, The Father Ted inaugural festival created a feud between two rival islands for the privilege of holding it. Perhaps Father Ted has been the most realistic thing to feature on this site today.

No reading of the Mirror was made in the making of this post.


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