March 6th, 2009

"The Bachelor": marketing in action?

by sage island

It was the finale heard around the world.  ABC’s “The Bachelor,” Jason Mesnick, chose Melissa Rycroft. Then in the after-show special, he broke off the engagement (GASP!) and gave another shot to runner-up Molly Malaney (GASP!).

The finale marked the end of the 13th season for the series, which has also spawned another show, “The Bachelorette.”  Early seasons of the shows picked up millions of viewers, often being the most watched shows on their respective nights.  But in recent years, viewership has lagged.  Until now.

The much hyped finale aired on Monday, March 2 before 14 million viewers; over 16.5 million stayed tuned to watch the after-show special.  But the marketing didn’t stop after the show aired. All week news reports have swirled with rumors that the show is fake, leaked emails between Melissa and Jason, reactions from the show’s host and producers, and the list goes on.  Even here in our office, heated conversations filled with gasps and screams filled the production area.

Fake or not, there is no getting around the fact that some brilliant (and fairly new age) marketing has gone on here.  Reality TV and our country’s obsession with celebrity culture have opened up a new channel for entertainment marketing.  Rumors run rampant in Hollywood about every celebrity, some of which are completely made up (even by the celebrity’s publicist) as a way to get back (or remain) in the public eye.

The lightning speed of the Internet rumor mill on social media networks and blogs fans the flames. During the controversial finale, angry fans and gossip bloggers flooded Twitter and entertainment blogs to rant about the bachelor’s decision, perhaps leading to the jump in viewers for the after-show special.

My guess is that the upcoming seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” will continue to ride the high that this finale has produced (producers announced the new bachelorette for next season — a reject from this season’s “Bachelor”). The show has a lot to live up to now -– viewers will now expect more sudden twists & turns, and of course more broken hearts.