Beauties and the Brands: Fake Feuds Boost ‘Real Housewives of NYC’

by | March 7, 2010 at 11:41 AM | Reality, The Real Housewives, TV News

'The Real Housewives of New York City' Countess LuAnn de Lesseps (Bravo)

'The Real Housewives of New York City' Countess LuAnn de Lesseps (Bravo)

It all started with J.Lo. She rose to stardom as an actress and branded herself to become a singer, clothing designer, perfume powerhouse, and restauranteur. The concept of branding has not been lost on the ladies of ‘Real Housewives of New York City’ either.

At first glance, it seems confusing why any of these rich, beautiful, image-obsessed women would allow themselves to be filmed for a reality show. Look a little deeper and it becomes obvious that the show is free advertising, a platform to brand themselves and promote their business.

It is no coincidence that an entire episode in a past season featured ‘Housewife’ Countess LuAnn De Lesseps teaching manners and etiquette to a group of teenage girls, including her mortified daughter. De Lesseps was simply giving viewers a real-life demonstration of the lessons they can learn if they buy her book, ‘Class with the Countess’.

Jill Zarin promoted her textile warehouse, Zarin Fabrics, by offering to help her cast mates, the Van Kempens, choose new window treatments for their remodeled townhouse while the cameras rolled. Other episodes featured Bettheny Frankel out on a blind date and ordering her own signature drink, ‘The Skinny Girl Margarita’, in addition to promoting her healthy living cookbook ‘Naturally Thin,’ while volunteering for a homeless living shelter. Viewers watched as Ramona consulted with marketing directors on the packaging of her skin care products ‘Tru Renewal’ and were given a sneak peek at her new jewelry collection, which is now featured on HSN.

With all of the business development and branding, one has to wonder just how authentic and ‘real’ the ‘Housewives’ actually are. The more fighting and drama between the women, the more press they seem to receive.

In an interview with People magazine, housewife Kelly Bensimon explains her feud with Bettheny: “Everything that happens between the two of us is something that she fabricates. It has nothing to do with me. Listen, that’s her way of getting press. If she talks about me then she gets press and that’s her game.”

Even the ‘Housewives’ reactions to fights are carefully calculated to maximize the image they want to maintain. In the premiere episode of the new season, Bettheny and LuAnn meet for drinks only to start fighting moments later. As Bettheny accuses LuAnn of being inauthentic, LuAnn has to politely react to the criticism in a calm, polite manner to uphold her reputation as the countess with class.

Watching ‘The Real Housewives of NYC,’ we seem to learn more about marketing and public relations than we do about who these women truly are.

Which of the ‘Housewives’ is the biggest ‘Media Whore’?