The use of public relations on reality television


The cast of The Hills

When I first had the idea to write this post it was going to be on a completely different aspect of reality TV and public relations. My focus was going to be on the reality television stars themselves. After reading a blog post on this same issue, it got me thinking about companies and products that put themselves on the reality television shows; this product placement.

I don’t watch many reality shows, but my favorite is The Hills. It’s addicting, especially because the girls are around my age, and they gossip and bicker like my friends (although not quite as extreme as this show). There has been some speculation recently that The Hills is scripted, but I am going to write this post as if it were a true reality show. Otherwise my opinions would change because rather than filming about her life and the companies in her life, these companies would be a direct product placement on the show.

Assuming the show is “real,” Lauren, the star of The Hills, starts out as intern at Teen Vogue. Although the company isn’t the focus of the show, Lauren works there and much of the show is filmed at her work. This show has gotten huge ratings and there is a ridiculous amount of Hills fans around the world. Seeing Lauren work at Teen Vogue makes Teen Vogue a hot spot and many of the fans will then become Teen Vogue fans because of this association (If this show isn’t real, perhaps that is why they focused on Teen Vogue rather than Vogue? To reach this younger audience?). After Teen Vogue, Lauren then began working at People’s Revolution. I’m not quite sure what People’s Revolution is but it looks super trendy, thanks to The Hills (Kudos to People’s Revolution– it’s a public relations, branding and marketing firm. Why is Lauren always folding clothes then?)

To get to the point, if you put your brand onto a successful show that targets your specific audience, it will do wonders for your company. If anything, it will spread awareness of your band to people who might not have heard of it. It’s interesting to think about, especially because I never noticed this before.

Looking at the other reality competition shows, like America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) or even Real World/Road Rules Challenge (Sorry, I watch a lot of MTV I guess), the contestants receive strategic prizes. The brands of these prizes are highlighted as well. I haven’t watch ANTM in a while, but I remember that the prize would be a contract with Covergirl and full-page spread in Seventeen Magazine. It’s pretty obvious who their target audience is. On the RW/RW Challenge, they’d win stereos, iPods and other big named items before they had a chance at the big prize. Because reality shows are trying to portray real people, these people are given items and jobs that they are supposed to have. We (the audience) should want these jobs and these items. These companies might have done a good job in the past of being sneaky with their products, but we are catching on!

What to learn from this? Reality television really is no good — but you knew this already.

Next post will talk about product placement in movies and other TV shows. Oh gosh. We can’t avoid ads and strategic messages anywhere!


One Response to The use of public relations on reality television

  1. Thanks for linking to our post on this topic! We appreciate it.

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