Kardashians Public Relations Wins & Losses
Love them or love to hate them, there’s no way you haven’t heard of the Kardashians. As the stars of the long-running reality TV show Keeping Up the Kardashians, the women of this family have carved a billion dollar empire out of their own personalities. So how do they do it?
Three Times the Kardashians Won at PR…
Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the family, arguably pulled off the most anticipated pregnancy announcement in the history of the internet, waiting until the birth of her daughter earlier this year before confirming rumours that she’d been expecting all along. In Kylie’s case, her apparent refusal to use her pregnancy as a nine-month publicity stunt was well-received; the subsequent release of a 12-minute film documenting her pregnancy has been viewed more than 73 million times, proving that sometimes in show-biz, low-key is best.
If subtly worked for Kylie, the opposite has been true for her big sister Kim Kardashian. In 2011, Kim’s marriage to basketball star Kris Humphries was aired as a two-part televised special, Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event, to which more than 4 million viewers tuned in. Prior to the nuptials, the pair bickered over how proceeds would be split from the wedding. They were right to fight: the family reportedly banked a cool $18 million from the over-the-top celebrations. Kim’s filing for divorce just 72 days later only added fuel to the fire, proof that in the world of the Kardashians, all publicity is good publicity.
No account of Kim’s PR prowess is complete without a review of the time she “broke the internet”- with her butt. In 2014, Kim posed for a photo-shoot with legendary photographer Jean Paul Goude for Paper magazine. Kim graces the cover of the ensuing publication in a fancy updo, neck of pearls and evening gloves; in the same shot, a dress is draped under her shiny, bare derrière, an image that would circulate as a major news story for a fortnight straight.
…And Three Times They Didn’t
Still, the queens of social media haven’t always got it right. Last year, Kardashian tomboy Kendall Jenner faced immediate backlash for her role in a Pepsi advertisement, whereby she acts as a peacemaker between civil rights activists and police using a can of the sugary beverage. Criticised for co-opting a burgeoning resistance movement with the use of a privileged 21-year-old supermodel, the Pepsi ad tanked- and Kendall’s image with it. “I feel like my life is over,” a tearful Jenner lamented to her sister Kim Kardashian on the reality show five months later.
Younger sister Kylie Jenner also faced criticism earlier this year when she appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine as the world’s youngest-ever “self-made” billionaire, touting the success of her cosmetics company, reality television show, sponsorship’s and endorsements. Given her success can hardly be untangled from the rest of the Kardashian empire, the rags-to-riches label for the businesswoman was received with rankling the world over.
Lastly, no one was able to overlook Kim’s appearance on the cover of the Turkish Cosmopolitan magazine in 2011, but for all the wrong reasons. The issue ran the same month as Armenian Remembrance Day, when Armenians remember Turkey’s genocide of the population during World War 1. Kim, herself an Armenian, was forced to backpedal immediately.