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31 May 19

Weekly Media Trends (31 May 19)

Trends > 31 May 19

Borkowski Weekly Media Trends: Gavin & Stacey | Botswana Elephant scandal | Love Island

Borkowski Weekly Media Trends

Last week we predicted that the Prime Minister's resignation would dominate the headlines and that the unfancied Rory Stewart might be a dark horse as her replacement. We were right about at least one of those things.

While we're on predictions, a couple of weeks back we prophesied that viral marketing could be a great tool to increase the fame of women's football...the England women's team backed up that hypothesis but did so with a hand-wringingly cringe re-write of 'Three Lions' worthy of Bill Nighy's character in Love Actually.

We also talked about James Charles and how 'Cancel' culture is creating new levels of accountability for Influencers, something we saw again this week in the escalating feud between YouTuber brothers Deji and KSI. So you win some you lose some.

And you don't have to take our word for it - all of our trends are now archived on the Borkowski Website. Now let's look at what else happened this week!

Gavin and Stacey: a sitcom comeback success?

The week kicked off with the announcement that legendary sitcom Gavin and Stacey will return for a Christmas special this year, almost a decade since it ended.

Bringing celebrated sitcoms back to try and reach a new generation has been commonplace lately and results have been mixed; from the disastrous (Dad’s Army, Yes Minister, Open All Hours, Porridge), to the mediocre (Only Fools the musical, Will & Grace across the pond) to the really quite good (Partridge, Still Game if you’re Scottish).

The successes tend to have some from making a virtue of how society and humour have changed since the original. It may only be 10 years old but the Gavin and Stacey first existed in a lovely bubble - pre-Brexit, pre-Fake News, and pre-James Corden being world famous. If it succeeds it could be because its writers see humour in old characters trying to get to grips with this uncomfortable new world.

Another indication as to its likely success is the motivation behind bringing it back.
The answer to this probably lies with James Corden. Ruth Jones has been successful since, but G&S is still the biggest thing she’s done so her motives aren’t mysterious, whereas Corden is now the US primetime heavyweight behind Carpool Karaoke, so doesn’t need this. But he’s also reportedly loathed within the UK television industry, so if he’s ever going to make a significant return to acting or UK screens in general, he’s have to do something to build a swell of good-feeling first: a Gavin & Stacey special which honours the original could do that, but not if its primary purpose is to be a James Corden showreel.

 
Botswana Elephant scandal could create another Bell Pottinger

Following the government of Botswana’s controversial decision to lift the ban on hunting elephants, they have sought out the advice of an American public relations firm. 42 West is an agency primarily known for work in Hollywood, listing Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as clients in December 2018.

The firm might do well to remember the fate of Bell Pottinger, which collapsed after accusations that they deliberately encouraged racial hatred in order to keep President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, currently facing corruption charges, in power.

Perhaps this is what happens when PR firms get too big and drink their own Kool-Aid. Bell Pottinger believed they could get away with anything; maybe the same can be said of 42 West. But not every crisis is fixable. Some issues are simply too unambiguously immoral to spin.

It might have been wise for these agencies to seek outside advice for themselves. In a world that increasingly demands an ethical approach from business and media organisations, PR professionals must be able to take a long hard look at their own practices. If they don’t, scandals like these will continue to consume the industry.


 
Love Island: How long can hype drown out moral qualms? 
Season 5 of Love Island commences next week having increased its audience sevenfold between its first and fourth seasons to an average of nearly 4 million last year.

Reputation-wise it hasn’t all been roses since then; the suicides of two former contestants implicated the show in a wider scandal about the duty of care owed by reality producers to their contestants’ mental health, most acutely when the Jeremy Kyle Show was cancelled for similar issues earlier this month.

Eyebrows have also been raised at the apparent half-heartedness of the show’s attempt to increase the diversity – particularly body diversity- of its contestants, prominently during a widely debated interview with the Radio Times.

But what impact will this have on viewing figures? The answer is ‘probably not much’; media coverage of the new series has been fervent and our impression is that anyone engaged with popular culture will at least dip in-and-out of Season 5 with scant regard of the moral questions the show’s comms team have been toiling to answer.

But Love Island’s rise has been meteoric, and this kind of upwards momentum is never perpetual. Big Brother, the show’s most comparable predecessor, saw its audience slump consistently after its fifth season, so we may be witnessing Love Island’s natural peak. Unless something sensational happens this year, then the issues, which until now have been drowned out by hype, may become harder to ignore, in which case TV’s most famous island might start to crumble and sink.
 
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