Kim Kardashian's Divorce Exposes Her Ambition for Fame and Money, Say Brand Experts (Analysis)
Kim Kardashian may not fully understand how Monday’s quickie divorce filing has affected the way people look at her, otherwise known as her brand. Yet, experts in the marketing field already know that her actions have damaged her brand identity and threaten to change how the masses and future employers view her.
“She’s completely betrayed the expectations of her brand, because she was a girl with ordinary values, ordinary hopes and dreams who happened to be very glamorous and exotic and happened to be living a very extraordinary life,” President and Brand Strategist at New York’s Truth Consulting, Linda Ong, tells The Hollywood Reporter. Ong’s company produces a comprehensive biannual cultural analysis of reality TV, which they started in January 2010.
“Now, what she’s done is shown that she is as shallow as people like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and the train wrecks of Hollywood that we detest,” Ong continues. “She’s exposed herself as really not one of us, but someone who is the kind of person we thought she wasn’t.”
Christine Kirk, CEO and founder of the Los Angeles-based boutique PR and social media marketing firm, Social Muse Communications, also believes that damage has been done to Kardashian’s brand, though she doesn’t call the affect “shallow.”
“I think it’s more about revealing her desire, her hunger for continuing to grow this empire that she’s built,” Kirk says. “And I don’t necessarily think it’s shallowness, I think it’s getting caught up in maybe dollar signs and the overall potential that the wedding could have on her overall brand and her empire. And I think that she revealed that.”
Kardashian’s actions after the divorce filing was confirmed didn’t help with the impression that she was driven by monetary gain either. Kirk points out that soon after the news broke, Kardashian tweeted that she’s leaving for Australia to launch her and her sisters’ Kardashian Kollection handbag line.
“It was literally posted about an hour after the divorce announcement was made,” Kirk says. “And that was kind of the last message on there for at least 24 hours and I just thought it was an ill-timed tweet.”
And then there was the statement she released on Tuesday where she admitted that she should have called off the wedding, but she was caught up in the “hoopla” of the event, E!’s filming of it, and her fear of disappointing everyone involved.
“I think it was a very calculated effort to make her more relatable,” Ong says of the statement. “I think what it did was prove she was materialistic, because the fact that she’s cited the TV show is a big clue, right? It’s not that ‘I didn’t want to disappoint my family.’ It was like ‘We had a TV show.’ It tells you that the goals were fame and money.”
“And you know the fact that she didn’t want disappoint people, sure everybody can relate to that,” Ong adds. “But the reasons that she gave for going on with the show are literally that her primary motivation was she had to make good TV, so she could make money, and stay famous and get endorsements and that is what’s obvious in her statement.”
“While she’s known for her sponsorships and things like that,” Kirk says. “Maybe people didn’t realize just how much this kind of thing takes over. And we’ve seen that it’s kind of taken over Kim in that way.”
So, the big question is will Kardashian’s divorce and subsequent actions affect her ability to make money. The experts tell us there are still opportunities for her even if the public’s view of her has changed.
“When people hire and when they do endorsement deals they are looking to have the same qualities and the same credibility as the person that’s endorsing them,” Ong explains. “She was impulsive and flighty and naive or money hungry. I mean none of these things are good qualities.”
“It will depend on the brand,” Kirk says. “Certainly, conservative, family-oriented brands won’t want to hire her for their spokesperson. But, there will be others who don’t care and will want to ride the wave of the buzz around this.”
One thing is for sure among the brand experts that THR has spoken to, though. The upcoming new season of Kourtney and Kim Take New York will have no shortage of viewers.
“If anything, there's even more of a fascination now with Kim Kardashian,” Bob Horowitz, President of Reality TV production company, JUMA Entertainment (Ultimate Merger, The Singing Bee) tells THR. “This will be huge for the Kardashian brand on E!."
“It will be kind of similar to the Taylor Armstrong situation with the Real Housewives,” Kirk, who’s careful to point out that big fans of the reality star will probably rally around her, but brand identity includes how the masses view a product. And she says that curiosity will definitely translate into big numbers for the upcoming series.
“People are going to want to tune in just to see what they can see, to read between the lines and see the events leading up to a tragic event,” she says.
On the other hand, while Kardashian’s brand has suffered as a result of the failed marriage and her actions after the divorce filing, the experts agree that her family’s brand has been greatly strengthened by their support of Kim at this time.
“I think they’re doing everything right,” Ong says. “I think you know their whole message is family, family, family. ‘We stand by our sister. We stand by our daughter.’ What they’re communicating to the public are exactly this ordinary person values. Some people will buy it, but other people are going to say “yeah right.’ I think if I was their communication strategist, I would give them the same advice. The worst the family could do is turn against her.”
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro