RuPaul's Drag Race is a Marketing Masterclass
Philip Ellison 04 May, 2015 at 10:05
RuPaul’s Drag Race might be known for glitter, glamazons and GIF-able moments, but there’s more to this addictive reality show than guilty pleasure viewing. Its message of equality and freedom of expression is something which many other pop culture institutions could take to heart.
Not only that, but the show’s gleeful celebration of creativity makes it a must-watch for anyone in the ad world. So if you’re a brand manager, shanté you stay; here are three reasons why you should pay close attention to all things RuPaul.
- The show is a sponsor’s dream
For the first few seasons, it was impossible to determine where RuPaul’s Drag Race ended and Absolut vodka began. Not only were the contestants invited to enjoy a branded cocktail after completing each weekly challenge, but the brand’s vice president of PR Jeffrey Moran even made an appearance as a guest judge.
Whenever RuPaul mentions a sponsor on air, the brand messaging is always on point. In fact, the constant shout-outs to the show’s corporate supporters are part of its charm. RuPaul’s Drag Race has always worn its product placement partnerships on its sleeve, perhaps keen to remember that it was sponsors which helped get the show on the air in the first place, back when it was an unknown passion project with no budget.
- It’s also a superstar factory
With each season, RuPaul’s Drag Race churns out personalities who often surpass the actual winner in terms of popularity and marketability. Case in point: the American Apparel Ad Girls campaign, which brings together three firm fan favourites from seasons four, five and six: Willam Belli, Alaska 5000, and Courtney Act.
Other fashion companies might have been a tad reluctant to hire three drag queens as spokesmodels for their women’s clothing line. But American Apparel has proven it is quick to embrace individuals who are a little out of the ordinary, like its other recent brand representative, fierce viral teen sensation Brendan Jordan.
- Brand ‘Ru’ takes centre stage
While the purpose of the show is ostensibly to find “America’s next drag superstar”, make no mistake: RuPaul is the leading lady. And she knows exactly how to manage her own brand. The studio where the contestants spend the majority of their time is adorned with pop art of RuPaul, the show’s entire soundtrack consists of her music, and the final challenge for the three finalists each year is to act, dance and lip-sync in the music video for Ru’s latest single.
It’s unlikely that the show would ever have reached a mainstream audience, let alone become the phenomenon it is today, without Ru’s name in the title. At its core, the Drag Race brand is RuPaul.