AWe all have our favorite TV shows which could range from cooking programs to comedy to action, and as with any product there are reasons we like them. This could be the personality of the presenter, the nature of the content, the script writing, but whatever it is that makes us warm to the show we end up becoming a loyal follower watching season upon season.
The more we watch, the more we become attached. We start relating to the characters, the situations they are in and perhaps even see ourselves in some of the characters.
This blog is about when these shows become so large they have global audiences picked up by networks across the globe with a loyal following that leads to all the stars becoming multi-millionaires but with one lead ‘Personality Brand!’
The question is: Can a show ever survive in the same format when the stars have become bigger than the show itself as they are the brand and then they leave?
This is the reason behind this blog as there have been a few shows recently that you could ask this about with the first one to discuss being; Two and Half Men.
Now Charlie Sheen was by no means a perfect man outside of the show, but his character in the show was basically his life outside of the show which played perfectly to all the headlines at the time that constantly circled around. All this led to Charlie Sheen as a brand existing both inside and outside the show, so the show was no longer just a show but more of a showpiece for the star. In essence the Charlie Sheen brand and the show had merged as one!
But what happens then when you try and split the two? The simple answer is the brand fails as you have split it. This became abundantly clear when Ashton Kutcher took over. A very successful and popular actor and possibly the best choice, but even with only a single cast member changing the show failed and what of Charlie Sheen? Well his new series Anger Management though like his previous brand has what can only be described as had a luke warm success. It now seems all forced and far less natural than previously, the brand has died and they should have just moved on not try to recreate the same show in a different skin.
Now let’s come back across the Atlantic to discuss Top Gear. Three presenters, one show with one dominant person / brand as Jeremy Clarkson. These were not the original presenters or trio but it was the one that gelled and created Top Gear what it WAS not what it IS!
Jeremy as the dominant band and sub brands of Richard Hammond and James May plus content that suited them built the brand and made it the most downloaded TV show in the world at the time. Can anyone even remember when Jason Dawe was there prior to James? Much like with Charlie Sheen the headlines outside of the show all added to the brand and their personalities; Jeremey’s inframammary comments, Richard crashing etc.
So now what happens when you change the brand? In come a raft of new presenters, each as their own brand and a slightly changed format that was basically a dialed down version of the previous. Chris Evans as a fantastic popular radio and TV host was the lead supported by a strong cast of Matt Le Blanc, Rory Reid, Sabine Shmitz, Chris Harris and Eddie Jordan. With a stella cast as this, surly it should be a hit? Well no it has all but failed. The personality brand of Jeremey Clarkson was stronger than the brand of Top Gear. The show can continue but will never be the same, so why try and make it so?
Now the personality brand cannot just stand alone and make the show as the trio moving to ‘The Grand Tour’ has proved and previously with Anger Management. The brand is a mixture of the content and the personalities that bring it to life and relatable to us as viewers, with a right combination you have the brand. Remove any section and the brand pulls apart.
Would ‘Friends’ or ‘The Big Bang Theory’ ever survived with a change in the cast, the simple answer is no.
Thus, the learnings I would take from this is, that when the show’s personality brand has moved on the brand is done, let it rest in peace as reinventing it wont work. It is not the Parent Brand any more it is a sub sub sub brand and will never be as engaging with the audience.
So here is to the waiting for the next show we can all fall in love with and relate to rather than the networks trying to flog a dead horse!