Keeping up with the Kardashian Brand

Kardashian. Even if you don’t want to, you know the name. You may watch the slew of reality television shows associated with the name (Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney & Kim Kardashian Take New York, Khloe & Lamar). Or perhaps you shop at Dash (the Kardashian boutique) or Sears (the Kardashian Kollection clothing line). Or maybe you’ve read and weighed in about Kim Kardashian’s scandalous divorce with basketball pro Kris Humphries. Was it real? Was it fake? Was it all for money? Regardless, the name is everywhere (perfumes, weight loss supplements, jewelry, fitness videos, credit cards, cosmetics, Barbie dolls, etc). Hate it or love it, talent or no talent— no matter what you may think of the brand itself, it does have a powerful recognition — worth an estimated $65 million.

While a public divorce and paternity scandal (it’s rumored that the late Robert Kardashian isn’t the birth father of Khloe Kardashian) has kept the Kardashian name in the news, another PR and branding crisis may be looming. In recent news, the NY Post reported that the Kardashian brand is tarnishing — and fast. According to the article, “Ratings for the family’s reality show have plummeted, sales of magazines with Kim Kardashian’s mug go unsold, and her products are unmarketable, insiders say.” In fact the article continues to share some startling statistics that may just prove that the Kardashian brand is in trouble.

These include:

· E!’s Kardashian TV franchise — “Keeping up with the Kardashians” — suffered a 14 percent dip in Nielsen ratings, from 3.5 million viewers per episode last season to 3 million this season.

· Circulation at Us Weekly, In Touch, Life & Style and OK! dropped about 18 percent when a Kardashian was on the cover in December, publishers said.

· Skechers ditched Kim as the face of the company in 2011 — they’ve replaced her with a French bulldog.

In fact, 500,000 consumers have signed an online petition to boycott companies that partner with Kim Kardashian at The site claims Kardashian has “made a mockery of American culture.” And while I can’t disagree, I also can’t stop watching.

This begs the question—what can be done to help save the seemingly toxic Kardashian brand? The answer may lay within the successful mastermind behind the brand, Kardashian mother, Kris Jenner. Kris manages all of her daughters’ careers and is president of her own production company, Jenner Communications. She’s proven that she’s a marketing and branding genius. From controlling the news to making sure consumers are left wanting more, Jenner has positively and continually exposed the Kardashian brand.

It will be interesting to see if the Kardashian brand is sustainable— where will it be in three years? What creative marketing tactics will be used to salvage the brand? Will the Kardashian brand find news way to connect with its audience, fans, and customers? What do you think? Are you ready for the Kardashian brand to retire? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Charitable Giving Goes Social This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season for bell ringers with red buckets asking for your donation in the name of charity – but giving-on-the-go this year is no longer limited to just the change in your pocket. At the forefront of this “social giving” movement is Keep a Child Alive (KCA), an organization dedicated to providing life-saving AIDS treatment, care and support services to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.

Singer and new mom, Alicia Keys, is heading up the effort and hopes to raise $1 million for the charity with a campaign initiative called Digital Life Sacrifice. How? By staging a “digital death” for some well-known celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Hudson, Ryan Seacrest, Kim Kardashian, Serena Williams and Usher, to name a few. They’re quitting Twitter and Facebook cold turkey in the hopes that their sign-off (in effect until the $1M donation goal is hit) will incite action.

In addition to going dark digitally, several of the celebrities have filmed a “last tweet and testament” and will appear lying in coffins for ads. Other ads feature famous faces posing in “Buy Life” t-shirts that are printed with unique bar codes that users can scan on their cell phones (using Stickybits or WiMO) to donate money in the name of their chosen celebrity.

Pedestrians who’d like to get in on a piece of the action can purchase their own ‘Buy Life’ t-shirts with bar codes to become a walking billboard for the charity as well. Friends and family (and even strangers!) can simply scan the shirts to donate. And there’s still a text campaign (text “BUYLIFE” to 90999 to give $10) in effect for the non-smartphone crowd.

The campaign is a brilliant twist on the convergence of popularity contests, impulse buying and mob mentality that we’ve seen on such shows as American Idol – where Keys first realized her influence when a plea for donations raised $500K in four minutes. Plus, it’s refreshing to see the power of celebrity on social media being harnessed for a positive effect; the famous get that they’re a commodity, so they’re starting to realize that they can capitalize on that for the greater good – and quickly, thanks to this fresh and fun take with bar-code technology. The digitally-dead celebrities may not be talking, but the rest of us sure will!

Is this the kind of holiday giving campaign social media and mobile addicts will rally around? Love it? Hate it? We want to hear your thoughts.