12 May, 2005

Branding Paris

Another conversation I had in my kung fu class produced this idea:

Consider the possibility that Paris Hilton does not exist. There never was any such person, nor is there a younger sister Nicky Hilton. There IS an actress who plays Paris Hilton. Her name is Claudia Farraday, and she is employed by a small and obscure production studio. A few years ago this studio paid a large and undisclosed amount of money to the Hilton family to make use of their family name. They would create a character, a true-to-life character around whom they would build a brand. Television shows, videos, clothing lines, makeup - you name it. All built up with far more verisimilitude than any screen creation could offer, because this one would actually BE real - as far as anyone knew.

They engineered their creation perfectly: she would start quietly, appearing as a model here and there - to establish credibility. Then she would blow up big, with instant notoriety that would fuel the growth of her prime-time television show. If it went well, they could move on from there... maybe maneuver for a book deal. Pepper her life with curious and scandalous incidents that would attract the attention of the appropriate consumer brackets. Quoi? Paris Hilton's private phone book was hacked and published on the Internet? How salacious! ("Yes - Danger paid quite a bit for that little piece of promotional theater.")

It was the perfect mechanism, for a public jaded by threadbare, aging forms of entertainment. Those old dog-and-pony shows wouldn't work on this tough, calloused public. But a sucker-punch, a fake - a dose of concocted reality. Ah. That would catch them unawares.

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