Two Reality Shows Who are Branding Themselves for Tuesday

From wedding dress shoppers to extreme hoarders, almost any viewer can find a reality television show to satisfy his/her guilty pleasure. Although reality television lacks in areas like (quality) scripts, the programs do not lack for brand appearances; the example that often comes to mind here are the Coca-Cola cups used by the judges on American Idol. Sometimes, the product placement is integrated into the function of the show. For example, contestants on the 2004 episode of NBC-TV’s “The Apprentice” were tasked with creating a marketing campaign for Crest Whitening Expressions a new Crest Toothpaste brand. After the episode, a commercial aired instructing viewers to go to Crest.com to give their own marketing ideas. The Crest website received 20,000 suggestions and 4.7 million hits overall, historically high in terms of online interest for a single product launch for parent company Proctor & Gamble.

However, many reality shows today are approaching the conceps of branded entertainment differently. Rather than being a platform for other companies and consumer products, reality shows have become brand platforms for themselves and their cast members. This Two for Tuesday, we are looking at two reality shows where the show itself is a branding tool.

Top Chef

First airing in 2006, Top Chef features chefs competing against each other in a variety of culinary challenges. A panel of famous chefs and other prominent figures in the food and wine industry are responsible for judging the creations of the contestants. Bravo has managed to make Top Chef into a hugely successful brand, including spin-off shows (Top Chef: Masters and Top Chef: Just Desserts) and cookware. Most recently, Top Chef fans had the opportunity take a cruise with their favorite contestants with Bravo’s Top Chef at Sea vacation.

Real Housewives

The Real Housewives franchise also began in 2006 with The Real Housewives of Orange County. Since then, Bravo has expanded the show to Atlanta, New York City, New Jersey, Beverly Hills, Washington, D.C. and Miami. Many of the cast members of the shows are using their fame to promote their own products and brands. The best example of this is Real Housewives of New York’s Bethenney Frankel, who admits to joining the show so she could promote her Skinnygirl Cocktails business. Other housewives have since followed suit with their own alcohol lines, as a majority of the show’s content revolves around activities that can be done while drinking wine. Bravo ultimately benefits from the entrepreneurial spirit of their cast members, since whatever product the cast member creates is tied up in the show and the network.

Producers and cast members of these reality shows are clearly seeing an opportunity through their own productions to promote their own brands, rather than being just a medium for other companies and their brands.

Cover Photo Source: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Jenny is a Junior Executive at SJG. She earned her BA in Psychology and a minor in Educational Studies in 2014 from Colgate University. Outside the office, Jenny loves to travel (usually to Disney World), bake and watch copious amounts of TLC.