Are reality TV personalities the new celebrity? – By Nicole Reaney, Director, InsideOut PR
Reality TV is not new, it’s been around for decades – who can forget Perfect Match? However the medium became more prominent and diverse with shows that delivered mass audiences in their initial series from Masterchef to Big Brother – which saw the rise in branded content and average audiences hitting 1.5 million when they first aired.
There is no doubt that reality TV offers people without an existing public following a platform to launch their career in entertainment or reignite their fame. It’s not a sure-thing and oftentimes the spike is short-lived – who can remember The Voice winner from this year? And just as we saw with Casey Donovan winner of Australian Idol in 2004 who did not achieve the intended celebrity status and fell off the media radar for years. In 2017 Casey returned to our screens for an appearance and win on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here with the subsequent release of her new single.
Reality TV can have a damaging effect – in that producers create these shows for entertainment – and with that, comes a classification into a ‘character’. The individual lacks complete control over how they are portrayed by the show, with editing to suit the show’s story line and media agreements. In the recent Bachelor series, Kiera Maguire was ‘the villain’ and this amplification of personality, has pigeon-holed prospective opportunities – where we saw her same character continue onto I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
A cast member generally opens themselves up to scrutiny once becoming a public figure and it really depends on the end-goal. For those after ‘some’ fame, then any publicity will achieve that. However those seeking to invest in a sustainable career – then clear choices need to be made into the reality TV medium selected and then how the appearance is managed.
We saw the return to public life of Tziporah Malkah (formerly Kate Fischer) and Tom Arnold made his appearance to Australian screens. Both were left with less than positive reviews and it is doubtful they will make a media ‘come back’ here.
On the flip-side, we have seen stars with previously contentious profiles, utilise reality TV as a means to create likeability and relatability. Shane Warne and Brendan Fevola on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here resulted in favourability towards these stars.
We have seen many examples of Reality TV stars successfully utilising their newfound notoriety to create long-term careers. From The Biggest Loser’s Michelle Bridges as a health and fitness advocate, to Big Brother’s Chrissy Swan and Ryan Fitzgerald as prime-time radio hosts, through to Guy Sebastian’s singer-songwriter career.
Reality TV has also been used to reignite past fame. Just as we’ve seen with Sophie Monk’s Bachelorette appearance which has realised a wave of media attention along with commercial engagements including Uber Eats, McDonalds and Slim Secrets.
The new celebrity is the social influencer – a sustainable and personally controlled approach to building a public profile, and utilising a reality appearance helps build an immediate live audience. At social influencer service #AsSeenOn [www.asseeonon.com.au] we work with a range of influencers and brands are seeking this avenue as part of significant brand campaigns and opportunities.