First of all, I don’t watch Jersey Shore and I’m not suggesting that you should.
I like Top Chef, Mad Men, and that’s it.
The second season of Jersey Shore premiered a couple of weeks ago. The show apparently isn’t all about six packs, orange skins, and drama.
Nielsen ratings confirm about 5.3 million viewers tuned in that Thursday night. Apparently it’s the best season premiere since the season 2 launch of The Osbournes in 2002.
It’s also about what could be one of the best marketing opportunities on television. Here are a few basics of MTV’s marketing mix (which concepts are familiar, but they score by kicking it up a notch):
1. Drama and controversy sell.
A lot of people have claimed that the show is “so stupid that it’s so entertaining.” They just can’t stop watching it. Most tune in because they enjoy watching the drama, and the rest do because they simply want to know what the hype is all about. So all the semi-criminal acts in the show are a true interpretation of “any publicity is good publicity.”
2. Online presence and social media apps help sell even more.
The show has a Twitter Tracker, for which MTV teamed up with social media monitoring company Radian6, and exclusive online videos. Facebook and iPhone apps (image: Photo Giddy, Creative Commons) were also recently released.
The apps allow fans to have all the Jersey Shore fun with the cast members being cartoon characters. Mashable quoted Row Feeder, saying there were 16,000 tweets per hour at 10 pm ET when the 2nd season of the show premiered.
3. Link #2 to #1 to optimize the results.
In an episode during Season One, a cast member called Snooki got punched by a random person in a bar.
MTV teased this scene during their promo but later decided to not air it.
The uncensored video was viewed more than millions of times on YouTube (it’s since been removed). Even some people who initially didn’t watch the show started watching after viewing the YouTube video.
Some of my friends who are not a big fan of the characters actually said, “It’s fun seeing someone you don’t like getting punched. I wanted to know what other mishaps they’re gonna get into.”
What’s important here is that #1 and #2 go together. Online presence (if handled correctly) can reach out to an entirely different audience, or add more to the ones existing already.
4. Take a risk.
When the show premiered, several of its sponsors were unhappy with how it turned out and all the controversies it created.
Domino’s pulled its sponsorship, as did Dell and American Family Insurance. They claimed that it’s just another reality show with its “15 minutes of fame.”
Well, that 15 minutes turned out to be a very, very long 15 minutes.
Still, Jersey Shore isn’t for everyone.
There’s no way my grandma could watch this show without having a heart attack. My grandma is a homeowner, loyal Williams-Sonoma customer, and an avid home magazine reader.
She belongs to a completely different demography with its own revenue-generating potentials.
But for the demographic that Jersey Shore and its ilk reaches, and for us marketers who need to reach them? We can learn a lot from how Snooki and crew went from zero to hero.
Dea Surjadi is a freelance public relations professional specializing in media relations and social media. Having worked in various newsrooms including television, radio, and the web, Dea applies her journalism and marketing background to the PR industry. A graduate of Missouri School of Journalism, you can reach Dea through email: dea[dot]surjadi[at]gmail[dot] com, or connect with her on Twitter.
[…] Here’s a link to what I wrote: The Marketing that Took “Jersey Shore” from Zero to Hero. […]
Sorry but I’ve been against the show from the get-go. I’m not Italian but I sympathize with Italian-Americans that it creates a horribly negative image of them on the show. If it brings in tourism; great, but the content is just another example of pathetic, aimless education. What values is it teaching the next generation? That being a meathead or an aggressive, take-no-prisoners girl is a way to go through life?
Thanks for the comment!
I’ve actually never watched an entire episode myself. I watched a few minutes of it and decided that I wasn’t a big fan. It’s unlike my relationship with Mad Men, which was love at first sight. In no way that I actually stand up for Jersey Shore by writing the blog post above, but I do applaud the social media marketing strategies that they use an effort to promote the show and make it more profitable. It’s very true that the show creates a negative image of Italian Americans in general, though. I guess it could be a lesson for everyone not to generalize or stereotype people based on the very few things they’re familiar with/have only been exposed to.
Thanks for stopping by!
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shonali Burke and Shonali Burke, Sean Williams. Sean Williams said: Worth discussing. RT @shonali: @deasurjadi guest-posted: How marketing took Jersey Shore from zero to hero: http://ht.ly/2o9zg. […]
I must say that I have never watched an entire episode of Jersey Shore – in fact, I simply couldn’t bare to sit through it.
However, what you have presented here – in my opinion – is an absolutely excellent analysis of (and I hate to admit this) a very clever comms strategy that has clearly identified, from the outset, how to reach a maximum demographic range with via as many outlets as possible. It also bothers me to know, after reading this, that somehow, somewhere, some way…someone is going to try a get me to watch another episode of Jersey Shore. It would seem inevitable at this point! ;)
Thanks for the comment! I have never seen an entire episode myself. I’ve seen a few minutes of an episode and I simply couldn’t stand it either. But yes, believe it or not, there’s a huge market with huge potentials (and active social media users!) out there longing for this kind of consumption.
Again, thanks for stopping by!
Hi Dea – interesting perspective here. I’d say that “any publicity is good publicity” needs a little caveat — if your brand is to be a an idiot, publicity that makes you look like an idiot is a good thing, even if it casts aspersions upon you… I don’t like reality shows because they seem to invite people to take pleasure in others’ misfortune. That these people are actively seeking negative attention is…interesting… As Dean Wormer in “Animal House” declared, “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” But apparently drunk and stupid are a pathway to $10,000 per episode. Dumb? I dunno…
I agree that the demographics on Jersey Shore watchers will be attractive to some advertisers — especially those (unlike AmFam and Dominos) who don’t care about being associated with a gang of idiots.
Thanks so much for the comment, Sean! I feel the same way as you do when it comes to reality shows. I think some people actually watch it just so they can feel better about themselves not being involved in any misfortune like what’s shown on TV.
And yes, some brands have to be extra careful in seeing the potentials of what their names can be associated with. Although, IMHO, had Domino’s not pulled out from being a sponsor, they might’ve been able to benefit from it. Jersey Shore’s audience and Domino’s customers…they’re not exactly worlds apart, don’t you think?