Jon & Kate have an announcement.
You have to admit:
1. The Gosselins (the parents, anyway) have participated in this show voluntarily, and the family has benefited materially from its success.
2. TLC has a show to sell.
3. The public cares about this family in crisis.
So this ad shouldn't make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Right?
The promotion of this "special" episode, which promises a life-changing announcement expected to be about whether the Gosselins' marriage -- not to mention the show -- will survive, leaves a bad taste.
From an advertising perspective, it's an easy sell; people love to watch other peoples' lives fall apart (if you doubt that, consider the popularity of shows like A&E's Intervention), and even more, to watch them triumph.
But from a PR perspective, it's a tough one to position gracefully. When TLC launched Jon & Kate Plus 8, it was a feel-good, watch-how-these-everyday-folks-deal-with-their-extraordinary-family show. With the stars' marriage reportedly in crisis, and relentless media and online speculation about each partner's infidelities and personal failings, though, that has all changed.
TLC's PR objective here is likely to minimize the impression that it is taking advantage of a family's turmoil. Unfortunately, to my mind at least, that's a pretty tall order. But TLC probably expects that people who'd be put off by this promotion would be unlikely to watch the show anyway -- and it's probably right. The fact is, in business, sometimes the ideal PR scenario and the smart business decision don't align.