By Julie Geller, @juliegeller
Smizing and tooching, huh?
Get past Tyra Banks’s nonsensical lingo about smiling eyes and butt posture, and you’ll see that America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) is providing some important pointers for successful PR and marketing. The CW Network’s flagship reality show is a prime example of a brand paying close attention to the fashion-and-modelling conversation in social media, and then finding entertaining ways to integrate that content into its message to reach new audiences.
Social platforms leave many brand and PR managers wondering: “Who controls the message?” We all know that it’s not enough to dictate a story to an audience. What’s often overlooked is that many of our most important and influential partners reside at the social media grassroots. Managing your brand conversation depends, in large part, on finding what’s emerging within your sector or audience and putting it to use.
ANTM is a case in point. The show is doing a great job of integrating social media, influencers, their personalities and points of view, and rich media to increase audience engagement. In a now predictable reality television formula, viewers participate in the competition by voting on social networks, a factor that determines if contestants stay or go home.
But ANTM is working hard to maintain its edge by expanding the television standard for engagement and threading audience commentary and content into every scene. The show’s out-with-the-old removal of its former fashion talking heads has made room for personalities (and their content) that have demonstrable influence in the fashion-and-modelling social realm.
The show’s most prominent social media acquisition is Filipino fashion blogger BryanBoy (aka Bryan Grey Yambao). Named one of the nine hottest Internet celebrities in 2007 by the New York Post, BryanBoy has been a fashion phenom since he started blogging six years ago, and his devotion to expensive handbags has made him a poster boy for luxury fashion houses. His 15,000 Facebook followers support his own growing celebrity, while his blog — with its news, product shout-outs and Fashion Week reports from around the world — has become a must-read for industry insiders and followers. As ANTM’s social media correspondent and commentator, he introduces viewer videos in his trademark flamboyant style. BryanBoy recently joined the ANTM judging panel — significantly adding to its hip factor.
ANTM clearly has its antennae tuned to lesser known fashion influencers and self-made up-and-comers. Following the viral success of his hilarious “totes amaze” YouTube parodies, P’Trique (a platinum-wigged, plus-size bearded guy named Patrick Pope) has been brought in as Tyra’s campy guest. In its most recent cycle, the show added social-media ready fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone (165,141 Twitter followers) and model Rob Evans (29,774 Twitter followers). Johnny Wujek (35,554 Twitter followers), the man behind Katy Perry’s over-the-top ensembles, assumes the role of creative consultant for photo shoots.
Emerging trends and personalities are helping ANTM stay current and relevant with its target audience, ages 18 to 34. In addition, the strategy gives the brand tremendous synergy with social media influencers who have large audiences of their own. Most important, however, by integrating these personalities and their content into its brand, ANTM is perfectly positioned to lead its community and to manage the fashion-and-modelling conversation.
Nice job. You could call it win-win. For Tyra and her fellow ANTM producers, it’s more likely they’re smizing and tooching all the way to the bank.