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Media commentators wonder at the new world of television, where people become famous simply because they appear on television, rather than earning a show, and fame, through talent or hard work. Bethenny Frankel, one of the real housewives of New York City, is the perfect example.

Frankel always wanted to be an actress and managed to get onto The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, then attended culinary school with the intention of starting a natural foods business. When she was asked to be on the Real Housewives reality show, she grabbed it as her opportunity to begin marketing. The brand? Bethenny!

Frankel’s healthy baked goods business is called bethennybakes. Her line of bottled margaritas—an idea introduced on the show—takes the brand name Skinnygirl. Now Frankel also appears in a follow-up show, highlighting her new life as a married woman with a baby daughter. She serves as a spokesperson for British Airways, Campbell’s Soup, and Pampers diapers. She also offers a line of skincare products and shapewear. The constantly filmed star seems to be an expert in everything—mom, wife, skincare provider, travel advisor, and chef.

The people appearing on television now have a chance to go from celebrity to expert, informing others about products they apparently should own. Marketing provided by a well-known personality such as Bethenny Frankel is believable and identifiable for people whose lives might mirror hers—single and struggling at age 40, and now happily married with a child and a successful career.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Who is Bethenny Frankel?
  2. Is this type of marketing considered product placement?
Katherine Rosman, “As Seen on TV: Brand Bethenny,” The Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2010.
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