Fame and the media game: What is fame now? And can you enjoy it without press intrusion?
Cheers have greeted the news that our 21st century Vera Lynn has wed! So?
Well, what's unusual about Cheryl Cole's holy union announcement is the manner of its outing. The impressive tactics deployed to stay below the radar before breaking official news proves a high-net-worth celebrity brand can have their cake and eat it.
Is it a post-Leveson new celebrity indicator or a steadfast willingness to prove a point?
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (née Cole)
This style of announcement benchmarks the Cole brand against other organisations inside and outside of her sector.
Thankfully, we were spared a tsunami of speculation on the possible marriage. There were no titbits on potential venue, flower arranger, dress designer, wedding singer and magazine buyout deal. Sadly this will follow.
The absence of the usual slew of headlines, innuendo and rumour pertaining to the complex his and hers tattoo – inevitably inked onto the last bit unmarked flesh available – might have been an added distraction. Instead, in its place a short celebrity haiku declaring the marriage had taken place. Alongside a picture of her wedding ring, a statement on Cole's website said:
"I usually do not discuss my personal life but to stop the speculation I want to share my happy news.
"Jean-Bernard and I married on 7/7/14. We are very happy and excited to move forward with our lives together."
After Leveson there is certainly a new celebrity statute of engagement. A prestige gleaming hindrance between the figures of interest and the public. The feral press beast has been neutered, and the skills to keep a client in view of the public eye have been subtly adjusted. The debate on privacy and press regulation pre-hacking was defeating. But whisper it. If a public figure truly chooses to conduct their life in secret, even in this hyper-connected social whirl, it’s possible.
The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.
Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.Sign up
For years the tabloid press has made its reputation on "exclusives" involving celebrities' private lives. A sea of publicists have turned the volume knob up and down on the amplification of celebrity. This industrial process has been generally charmless. Driven by market forces, stars frequently exploit private happiness for financial return discarding all common sense.
Some stars have been vocal on the issue of privacy, hungry as they are to exploit the fame cycle as they rise to the top.
Then moaning about invasion of privacy when they feel they are at the summit wax.
The unspoken truth is the relationship between celebrities and the media is such that, arguably, one cannot exist without the other. It's always been a delicate balance. However the means to stay below the media line is achievable for the sensible and strategic.
Whatever games are played with the media, the clever celebrity wrangler has always dealt with privacy issues with a clear grip of honesty and truth. I forget who said: “Unfortunately once you push the toothpaste out of the tube it's hard to get it back in.” But you know what I mean...
An appetite for fame is insatiable. But success always occurs in private, and failure in full view. Nowadays the press rep can more easily keep a client properly in the public eye. But it’s taken time to prove a point.
There had always been a delicate balance between celebrities from the Z list up to the C list, who are quite happy to reveal their inner secrets, and the A and B list, who go about their business and guard their private lives.
The smart celebrities realised that to a certain extent they are public property, but chose carefully their friends and confidants not mixing business and pleasure. Many proved it was possible for them to have a private life.
Privacy is a delicate balance between the needs of promoting what you have to professionally – and your ‘real’ life beyond it.
It requires a long-term commitment to the amount of fame you have generated and a strategy of dealing with it.
Anyway, I prefer to contemplate Leszezynski Stanislaus wisdom:
“What is fame? The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little.”