Celebrity Big Bother

It’s not been a good week for masculine sexuality. Celebrity Homo Erectus proving, as ever, that he can’t keep it in his trousers.

But, even though they’re always misbehaving, most celebrities are pretty boring, aren’t they ?

Celebrities are just a way of extending our social circle to people we have no obligations to.

But has it always been like this ?

Weren’t celebrities once heroes ?

Of all so-called celebrities, only stand-up comedians consistently earn my respect – the best of them have clearly gone into the lions’ den of their own terror and emerged blinking, angry and bullet-proof. Frankie Boyle is like that – incredibly bright bloke, but his courage is what I really love.

We should only make celebrities out of people who show courage. And it’s that ability to face up to failure – when the fear of it paralyses most people – which I really love.

For stand-ups, that means going through the gigs where nobody laughs and then the booing starts.

A friend told me recently how he’d seen Tony Hawks – a brilliant writer and stand-up – attempt to entertain an Irish ad awards show a few years ago. After a tortuous 20 minutes of silence then drunken hooting, he left the venue post haste.

He’s the guy who wrote the book “Round Ireland with a Fridge”, although apparently he’d have got more laughs on that night just doing his washing on stage.

Anyway, he headed to the airport without even waiting to hear what had won Best Bus-Side that year. And  personally I don’t blame him for grabbing the first taxi in the rank.

We have to learn to experience failure, but we don’t have to like it.

Although I adored those bits on ‘Shooting Stars’ where Vic Reeves told a joke and nobody laughed and tumbleweed span across the set.

Really playing with the fear of failure.

The media models of today allow you to do that, as well.

Digital/ social campaigns are comparatively low-cost, and you can play with them to respond to consumers’ involvement.

As I’ve said before, experimentation and  a healthy attitude to “failure” are at the heart of creativity.

Which is why I’m still astonished at people’s terror of “failure”, and also their desire to stick their ad budget into something monolithic and immovable.

In the “fear of failure” bit, I’ve had several conversations with people recently who didn’t want any celebrities associated with their campaigns. And I thought oh good, I’m bored with most celebrities, but then I realised that their concern was in case the celeb did something to bring the brand into disrepute.

But given that Kerry Katona was the spokesperson for Iceland for several years, and that the brand grew in that time, I’d have thought that would have laid that particular ghost.

Although laying a ghost was actually one of the few things Ms Katona didn’t do to publicly humiliate herself during her stint.

Presumably because Derek Acorah still hadn’t found one.

Or maybe he did, and they didn’t fancy her.

But most celebrities’ brands are much stronger than any business brands they come into contact with.

And it’s interesting to ask – why is this ? Is it actually (and ironically) something to do with their fallibility ?

How about linking up with a celebrity who admits to years of drug abuse, alludes happily to various sexual shenanigans, and also admits to stealing money off a fellow pupil while at school ?

Well, I’d say that Stephen Fry was almost unassailably popular.

Quite rightly, too.

As Eric Schmidt of Google said – “privacy is dead, get over it “. And with that, so should be the notion of bland brand perfectionism.

Ultimately, it may be about the difference between being liked and being admired.

And if celebs can survive being seen with their pants down, metaphorically or literally or even continually, why can’t a brand ?

Why can’t a brand’s core values be – unpredictability, irreverence ?

How do you feel about those qualities in your friends ?

Incidentally, Eric Schmidt also said “Our policy is we try things, we celebrate our failures”.

Go on, brands of the world, get your knees dirty.

  • Chris Worsley

    If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn anything. I wrote something about Tony Hawks but thought better of it but I will say he’s everything Frankie Boyle isn’t and leave it at that.

  • Steve Henry

    Quite agree.

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