Cultivating Brand Image on Talk Shows

Talk shows made their debut on television back in 1951 and hasn’t slowed down since then. The Tonight Show premiered in 1954 with host Steve Allen and is now the longest running talk show in the world. Nearly every celebrity has made at least one appearance on a talk show during their career, from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Not only do these shows allow celebrities to promote a new movie or book release, but it also lets them show their personality to the public. It’s a chance to see them outside of an acting role and be viewed as “real people.”

Look at Ellen DeGeneres; she uses her own show to strengthen her own brand image. She’s known for comedy, dancing, and acceptance. From her dancing routines with the audience at the beginning of each show, scaring her guests, and having adorable kids dance and sing on the show, Ellen is one of the most liked talk show hosts of our generation. She shows her generosity by giving guests giant checks on the shows and hosting the “12 Days of Giveaways” during the holiday season. Although she does discuss serious topics from time to time, she keeps the content lighthearted and encourages everyone to “be kind to one another.” Ellen is able to use her own talk show to create this fun and light-hearted personality that engages fans on various platforms, including Twitter and Instagram. Ellen has built up her brand image for years and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

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Some of you may remember or a least heard of the scandal Hugh Grant was involved in back in 1995. His career was just starting to take off as a charming, handsome British actor when he was caught with a prostitute in his car and was arrested for lewd conduct. This type of news may not be as big of a scandal now, but back then, this sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry. Hugh went on an apology tour on talks shows in what is now dubbed as one of the best PR campaign saves in history. His strategy: to look as ragged, apologetic, and pitiful as possible. Instead of demeaning his actions, he made the public feel bad for him. With his new movie Nine Months about to hit theaters, he used this apology tour to show remorse to the public while promoting his movie at the same time.

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His most notable television appearance took place on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno; Leno was very blatant by asking “What the hell were you thinking?” at the beginning of the interview, to which Grant responds, “You know in life what’s a good thing to do and a bad thing to do. I did a bad thing.” Grant’s appearance in the interview is also worth noting; he looks clean and put together, with a suit and tie, and is still able to charm his way out of the situation. He shows his remorse to his family and girlfriend, Elizabeth Hurley, by thanking them for their support through the scandal. Grant’s ability to take responsibility for his actions maintain his positive image on talk shows may have just saved his career.

While some need to use tv show appearances to repair their image, some use it to strengthen their brand. Take Amy Poehler, one of Hollywood’s funniest female comedians. Back in 2014 when her memoir, “Yes Please” was released, she did a press junket tour to promote the book on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Today Show, among others. She is already well-liked by the public and further strengthened her funny personality on these shows by joking with the hosts. She seemed more “down to earth” by discussing how her book and sharing behind-the-scene stories from Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation. When she made appearances with Tina Fey from Baby Mama and Sisters movie promotions, both Poehler and Fey were able to create a brand image of being strong female comedians. Their friendship is a namesake in Hollywood and they are known for being supportive to each other.

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Not only do talk shows allow celebrities to promote their projects, but it also gives them a chance to create and show their brand identity. These identities help create a (hopefully) positive image in Hollywood and can even save their careers. Talk shows will surely be used for decades to come as a way of fostering the public’s needs to “get to know” their favorite celebrity.

-Amber Mangione

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