Updated: Jun 3
The year is 2002, the most popular broadcaster of Brazil, Globo TV, launches a Brazilian version of Big Brother -- a Dutch reality tv franchise based on the book 1984 by George Orwell. The show was a huge success; brands flocked to sponsor it, so that the broadcaster decided to launch another edition in the same year.
Fast-forward to 2020 -- Big Brother Brasil (BBB) is now a multi-platform product; the show format evolved to match the technological shifts of society. The program is one of the biggest reality tv shows in the world. It has the ability to generate numerous alternative sources of revenue not only for Globo but also for its sponsors.
Since its beginning, the show successfully converged entertainment with publicity in its content. So, it wasn’t a surprise when in 2020, the program presented a more modern and digital format. The producers kept the initial concept of the show but changed the participants' criteria. Now the anonymous participants are confined with celebrities and influencers in a house monitored 24 hours by cameras.
From a marketer's perspective, that looked like an attempt to increase brand sponsorship and also a strategy to select people with high influential power that can generate dividends for a long period after the end of each edition.
Influencer marketing is a powerful strategy for brands that want to get closer to consumers. From small to big, it’s almost impossible to find a brand that is not using influencers to display its products. “Common people” with a few thousand followers have the power to influence others because they tend to be more “real” and relatable.
The problem with influencer marketing is that it's not easy for brands to fully know if an influencer is a cultural fit because they might not be as “real” as they portray.
The producers of Big Brother Brasil saw an opportunity to capitalize on this problem. By adding celebrities, influencers, and anonymous people to a monitored house that streams their daily activities 24/7, the BBB allows brand managers to evaluate the opinions, behavior, and cultural aspect of the participants, and of course, the most important thing: the public perception of that prospect influencer. For big brands, this lifts the weight of associating their brand with influencers that might be a timing bomb of problems.
The idea of having an influencer incubator streaming live for the mass market is genius. Especially when you disguise it as a reality TV show clumped with advertisement content. However, the 2021 edition proved that there is no way out for brands regarding public backlash. The celebrities and influencers inside the show are not exempt from public judgment, and brands still can be criticized if they are sponsoring the program or have sponsored one of the influencers that the public didn't like.
In today’s highly polarized social environment, brands can no longer remain neutral. Consumers are demanding that companies and celebrities take a stand on issues that matter to them. Therefore, brands must be careful when associating their image with influencers and celebrities because the smallest conflict in opinions might damage the brand's reputation.
The truth is, there is no place for brands to remain silent about social issues anymore. If you want to survive in the current marketplace: take a stand! And ignore the backlash if it is not coming from YOUR people.
About the Author: Hey, I’m Leila Souza. Just a mixed-AF Gemini kid that does Marketing for a living and tells stories to not die. A hopeless optimist who believes in sustainable wealth creation. The truth is -- I am just human. 🤷 When I’m not working, I make fun of Brazilian politics and reimagine current movies and TV shows on my YouTube channel. BTW, my channel is in Portuguese, so don’t subscribe, but check it out! 😉