‘… (AND HOW TO DO IT RIGHT)’ part four
by Jeetendr Sehdev
Published by St. Martin’s Press
eBook ISBN: 9781250107534
Copyright (c) 2017 by Jeetendr Sehdev
“Instead, upon graduation, I pivoted 180 degrees and decided to become a power banker, knowing it would allow me to travel far and wide, shop on Jermyn Street (look it up), and live my idea of the high life. I lasted about five minutes on the trading floor, and promptly requested a transfer to the private wealth division of JP Morgan, where I soon found myself mingling with members of the British elite. After two years, just shy of my twenty-fourth birthday, I’d had my fill of polo matches and auction houses and was ready for a little more substance, so I turned to the world of consulting and started learning about the inner workings of a range of Fortune 500 companies. As a management consultant, I learned a lot, but after a few years of number crunching and data forecasting, I was more than itching to exercise the creative side of my brain and return to the world of academia, so of I went to Oxford University to study history.
I was still determined to get to Hollywood, but what was left? I’d rejected medicine, banking, business consulting. Surely there was something that would get me there. In the last week of my finals at Oxford, after watching the Joe Pesci movie With Honors, shot at Harvard University, I decided my next stop would be Cambridge, Massachusetts, to get my MBA. No, it wasn’t L.A., but it was three thousand miles closer than England. It’s true, I went to Harvard to get to Hollywood, which makes about as much sense as the rest of this story.
I left with an MBA and a coveted ofer at advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather in New York City. I was home at last, metaphorically speaking, and branding was the key to unlocking the door—the perfect combination of art, science, and business. It was a coming-of-age of sorts, and while I still had my sights on the West Coast, I loved my fifth-floor walk-up in NOLITA (despite the bathtub in the kitchen), and knew that I was finally on my way.
After a year at Ogilvy, I dropped a bombshell. I wanted to transfer to Los Angeles and work in celebrity public relations. My bosses were surprised to say the least, and they didn’t believe my Ivy League education and work experience directing prestigious brands like American Express and Dove was quite the right fit for celebrity PR. Besides, they had gotten used to me working 25/8 and wooing big clients. But I was determined. I knew there was more to the red carpet than most people believed (i.e., it wasn’t just superficial, soul-destroying, himbo work), and I was determined to prove it. Besides, there’s a People magazine whore in all of us.
Once in L.A., I began to get a glimpse of what I was really interested in—the inner workings and behind-the-scenes antics that powered Hollywood’s biggest deals. Over the next several years at business meetings, in hotel bathrooms, on movie sets, and at award ceremonies, I received a crash course in business that neither Oxford nor Harvard could rival. All the rules that I’d learned about strategy, planning, reason, and rationality went out the window.
Emotion was everything in Hollywood. I saw a studio executive beg to have his latest crush cast in a TV show, an A-list actress fake her pregnancy because she couldn’t afford to gain weight, and a teen heartthrob throw more than a tantrum because his manager forgot his steroids. I couldn’t believe the gulf between their images and their actualities. These celebrities were brands. They had clearly defined identities that were the premise of their appeal. Just as a strong logo instantly communicates what a product is about, these celebrities’ engineered characteristics, behavior, and words conveyed who they are. And just as a good brand makes an emotional connection with consumers, successful celebrities do the same.
Bringing these insights together with those I had learned from my banking, consulting, and advertising days, I embarked on a new journey of my own creation—celebrity branding. It was a radical approach: each celebrity as a unique brand, a unique product, and not just one of many generic actors, musicians, or athletes. I planned to base my work not only on empirical research and insight but also on my own intuition.
As I applied the research techniques of branding—focus groups, online surveys, regression analysis, and ethnographies—to celebrities, a methodology began to emerge, one that I not-so-modestly christened JAAM (TM) (Jeetendr’s Alternate Aptitude Methodology) because it “jammed” together the skills usually divided between the right brain and the left brain into a powerful whole-brain way of thinking. Besides, having now studied the arts and the sciences, worked in banking and advertising, dated Oxonians and Angelenos, I had developed a rather ambidextrous brain myself, and I couldn’t help but think in both scientific and artistic terms. Until I developed JAAM, marketers could only guess the influence of a celebrity based on their perceived star power (a poorly defined concept at best), or even worse, their number of Twitter followers. But my research revealed something contradictory: popularity does not translate into influence. Numbers are just a starting point, a platform from which you can investigate deeper truths by examining the psychological, motivational, and emotional needs of audiences—and what they respond to might surprise you.
***** TABLE OF CONTENTS *****
1. How I Arrived at the Kim Kardashian Principle
How do social media stars attract such obsessive attentioneven more than the Hollywood A-list? And what can they teach us about making our own ideas, products, and services break through? The worlds’ leading authority on celebrity branding, Jeetendr Sehdev, whom Variety calls “the best in the business,” tackles these questions head-on.
Sehdev shows why successful images today, the most famous being Kim Kardashian, are not photo shopped to perfection, but flawed, vulnerable, and in your face. This total transparency generates a level of authenticity and intimacy with audiences that traditional marketing tactics just cant touch.
The Kim Kardashian Principle reveals the people, products, and brands that do it best from YouTube sensations like Jenna Marbles to billionaire tech mogul Elon Muskand proves why the old strategies aren’t working. After all, in a world where a big booty can break the Internet and the president is a reality TV star, self-obsession is a must-have. No posturing, no apologies, and no shying away from the spotlight.
The Kim Kardashian Principle is a fresh, provocative, and eye-opening guide to understanding why only the boldest and baddest ideas will survive and how to make sure yours is one of them.
Jeetendr Sehdev is the world’s leading celebrity expert. A trailblazer in pop culture insights, he has become one of the most prominent figures in celebrity news and a sought-after advisor to top international companies. Jeetendr’s research on the power of YouTube stars continues to make global headlines and has gained him influencer status and over a million subscribers on social media. He is a familiar face on shows like Access Hollywood, The Insider and CNN Tonight and he regularly writes opinion pieces for publications like The Guardian and Forbes. A graduate of Oxford University and Harvard Business School, Jeetendr is a British national who now lives in sunny Los Angeles where he teaches at the University of Southern California.
This week’s selection ‘KIM KARDASHIAN PRINCIPLE: WHY SHAMELESS SELLS (AND HOW TO DO IT RIGHT) by Jeetendr Sehdev appears Monday thru Friday and comes to you courtesy of dearreader.com and BurlingtonPublicLibrary.ca Business Online Book Club.