Soaps: Circling the Drain or Rejuvenating Their Branding?

I confess I was raised on Another World.  Alright settle down out there with your jokes.

I began watching the Young and the Restless in the 80’s.  It’s been fun to watch the characters marry each other multiple times, live in posh surroundings even when they are broke, battle their evil twins, develop music careers, get face lifts, set hairstyle trends and wear slutty clothes to the office.  I’ve “known” them longer than some of my dearest friends.

In a market where several soap operas have been cancelled, The Young and the Restless team has some red hot branding going on.

At  http://shopjabot.com/ you can now purchase what was once a fictitious cosmetics line. This line include skin care anti-aging products.

This is red hot merchandising at its best.  I cannot vouch for the quality of the products (would love a sample though) but I love the idea of taking merchandising a TV show to a new market.

There is a theory that soap operas are on the way out due to reality television.  It is thought that viewers want quicker story progression.  Soaps can drag one day out for 2 weeks.  But there is comfort in knowing that the vicious behaviour is pretend on soap operas.  Reality TV is staged and scripted to some degree to capitalize on our desire to watch people suffer.  For some of us this is painful because they are not actors and are not always represented accurately in the name of ratings.  In addition, we only know the people on reality TV for a very short time unlike our relationships with soap characters.  But I digress.

While Guiding Light and All My Children executives succumbed to smaller market share The Young and the Restless crew is not taking this trend lying down.  They seem to understand that today’s viewers (customers) require a multi-level connection with their favourite shows.  They are on Twitter and have a great fan page on FaceBook where viewers can post their comments and get feedback.  Both of these are updated regularly and delightfully.  Their website is gorgeous even if the font is a little small.  They clearly understand that customers want to connect with them even if it is only by using a product they see on the show.

The Young and the Restless has also always embraced socially relevant issues in their plotlines covering eating disorders (Tracy), alcoholism (Katherine), child abuse (Kevin), internet addiction (Daniel), STD’s (Lily) and others.  In some cases they broke down social barriers with their courageous writing.

While the genre may be slightly outdated their approach is modern and adaptable.  They are even taking advantage of cross-promotional momentum by strategically aligning themselves with “The Talk” by accessing their demographic.  We need to provide customers with multiple methods of connecting with our brands.  A website is not enough anymore.  We have to have some human connection to create brand loyalty.

I take my hat off in a drawn out, intensely dramatic and suspenseful fashion for their marketing efforts.

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