As the stars aligned, both literally and figuratively, on what would be Kim Kardashian’s 3rd and most spectacular wedding and with the month that follows marking the 20th year anniversary of the O.J. Simpson trial, I’m taking a moment to reflect on what I consider to be my greatest missed opportunity on the conference circuit - an intimate conversation on brand & content building with Kris Jenner via AdWeek.
The June 2014 issue of Vanity Fair dubbed the O.J. Simpson trial “the 1st reality TV series.” And since I grew up watching Real World on MTV and know better, I agree only if we caveat “for the masses.”
The O.J. Simpson trial lasted from June 94 - Oct 95 and during that time regularly scheduled programming experienced daily interruptions - even game 5 of the NBA Championship series between the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks was no exception.
The trial was undeniable, epic and the first of it’s kind. 95 million Americans watched the famous car chase (5 million more than watched the Superbowl that year). And Kris had a front row seat, wife to the defense lawyer, vacation buddy to the defendant, and best friend to the murdered victim.
As the nation was forced to consume trial coverage, a new pop culture phenomenon emerged. VF reports that during the trial, 74% of Americans could identify Kateo Kaelin, O.J.’s houseguest while only 25% could identify Vice President, Al Gore. It was a new type of fame. A “fame not contingent upon winning a competition or displaying a skill or talent…” Those taking part in the trial, and those later featured in Keeping Up With the Kardashians, “do nothing, and that’s their genius, their special gift. They’re celebrated for purely being quote themselves unquote.” - VF
Although, Keeping Up with The Kardashians didn’t materialize until 12 years after the trial, Kris stayed connected to reality TV as it emerged. Step mom to The Hills star Brody Jenner, and close friend to Faye Resnick Real Housewives star and godmother to Nicky Hilton, she was somehow at the center of it. But unlike those who came before her, she has taken her loved ones and propelled them into a spotlight that has sustained in a way that no other reality franchise has.
And arguably her most famous daughter, Kim, is reportedly making $21 million for simply providing photos and access to her most recent wedding, just less than 3 years after making $17 million from showcasing her previous wedding.
So whether you’re for or against this notion of “reality” and the content it provides, you have to appreciate, that at least for Kris Jenner, in a world where people spend their whole lives trying to figure out who they are, she has mastered the art of not only being herself, but profiting from it in its most simple form. Taking the lessons from her past and applying them now; most definitely a noteworthy brand. Kudos.
Next conference she speaks at I’ll be in the front taking notes.