You might have never seen an episode of Sex and the City, but there’s no denying the cultural impact the show has had on society for more than 20 years. At first glance, the show follows a few successful women living in New York City as they navigate jobs, boyfriends and fashion.
Until recently, I had never seen an episode but because of the quarantine, we are all looking for new binge worthy TV shows… needless to say, my girlfriend was very excited. One episode in particular episode highlighted a great example about the power of marketing – specifically influencer marketing.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing focuses on using key industry leaders to drive a brand’s message. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers with typical ad branding, you would instead inspire or pay influencers to get the word out for them.
In the past, this style of marketing has been reserved for celebrities and companies with big budgets. In recent years, millennials and the social media generation have disrupted those trends and changed the entire game of influencer marketing.
A Saturated Market
With Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Tik Tok, etc… anyone with an authentic voice has the power to effectively engage their followers with relevant content and influence brand perception. Influencer marketing is so highly successful, you no longer need to be a celebrity or have a million followers to be effective.
But at what point will this style of marketing become oversaturated with teenage Youtubers and ex-bachelor contestants? If influencer marketing is a highly proven tactic that’s being used more and more, brands must quickly find new approaches with influencers that are relevant and fresh.
One potential solution has been sitting in our living room for the past 20 years and her name is Carrie Bradshaw.
The European Pubic Lice Problem
In 2013, British health officials faced a problem – pubic lice. This was a real concern for doctors who were now strongly advocating that people… clean their private areas to reduce the chance of pubic lice and infection. However, no government sponsored awareness message was strong enough to convince people to change their cleaning habits.
Suddenly, around this time, the pubic lice problem disappeared overnight and nobody could figure out why. It wasn’t until years later that the British Association of Dermatologists came out with a theory stating that Sex and the City should be credited for this almost-extinction of pubic lice in 2013.
The theory goes on to say, the popularity of Brazilian waxing could be traced all the way back to an early episode of the show. You know… the one where Charlotte gets crabs in the Hamptons and Carrie suggests getting a Brazilian?
The British Association of Dermatologists official study showed that the frequency of pubic lice decreased from 0.41% of the population being infected to 0.17%. This dramatic decrease, they said, happened at the height of Sex and the City’s popularity.
Dr. Kun Sen Chen, a British Association of Dermatologists spokesperson said, “What we have seen at work is the law of unintended consequences… in popularising hair removal Carrie Bradshaw and co. have contributed to ridding humanity of pest that had plagued humans for millions of years. Sadly there isn’t an Emmy for that.”
The Untapped Power of Fictional Characters
People related to and liked Carrie’s character so much that they were influenced by her behavior to “experience” something on their own, through a television show. Although this was unintentional, it clearly demonstrates the power of using fictional characters as brand influencers.
Although this is nothing new and dates as far back as the 1930s, where Coca Cola successfully used Santa Claus, it does present a great opportunity to create a viable branding experience without a crowd. With the ability to control a perceived persona through television scripts and shows, brands are able to maximize emotional connections audiences have with these characters.
With this recent surge in content streaming, companies have access to a tremendous library of new characters to act as brand advocates. With so many ways to access content, the opportunities of creating “intentional consequences” can be extremely powerful, yet it remains relatively untapped.