Kerry Washington’s Brand Strategy
Kerry Washington is handling the sh-t out of her image right now. Personally, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a major hard-on for Kerry but then again, I surround myself with smart, kickass human beings who recognize flawlessness when they see it. My point: Everybody loves Kerry. Olivia Pope would be proud. In a new interview with Adweek, Kerry is discussing openly why and how her image became what it is. It was not a happy accident, as a lot of actresses would want you to believe. She has WORKED to build her brand. She’s a spokesperson for Movado watches, Neutrogena, OPI and Apple Music and she is very “hands-on” with every one of those campaigns. She even convinced Neutrogena to add darker shades to their foundation line (bless you Kerry!). Adweek calls her impressive world of endorsements Kerry Inc.
But here’s the most impressive thing about Kerry Washington: the only thing I know about her husband and daughter is their names. She is extremely private. But she’s also on Instagram and Twitter A LOT. I know what she was wearing last night. I know when she pulls an all-nighter shooting Scandal but I don’t know what her daughter ate for breakfast. I don’t know what Kerry and her (super hot) husband’s PDA looks like.
She’s challenging the idea that in order to sell likability and relatability, you also have to sell your personal life. She has drawn a clear line on privacy that she has never crossed. To quote Lainey, “It’s not like one day Kerry says ‘give me privacy’ and the next she’s like ‘oh, my baby is talking!’” Ahem, Reese Witherspoon, Mila Kunis and Jessica Biel. I could go on.
Lots of celebs of Kerry’s calibre talk about social media like it’s in direct competition with privacy. Jennifer Lawrence and Kristen Stewart come to mind. In the Adweek piece, not only does Kerry admit to having a social media manager (we all know they exist but which celebs are actually saying it out loud?), she also talks about using Twitter to strategically increase Scandal’s profile.
“I came across an article about the most tweeted-about shows, sent it to [my social media manager] Allison and said, "I want Scandal to be on this list next year." Because I have very small ambitions, as you can tell [laughs]. And she said, "In order to accomplish that, probably everybody on the show should be on Twitter."
She then goes on to say she didn’t order everyone on the show to get tweeting even though she could have. She left that to TV Queen Boss Goddess of Life Shonda Rhimes. Scandal did become one of the most-tweeted-about shows and led the trend of casts live-tweeting their episodes. Kerry owns her ambition and strategy instead of pretending acting is just about the art. It’s not. It’s also a business. So when Kerry reveals that those fun Apple Music commercials co-starring Taraji P Hensen and Mary J Blige were about presenting a deliberate image, I’m not mad at it.
“… people know the Olivia Pope side of me, and the real-world White House side of me, and the magna cum laude Kerry who gives speeches at commencements, but they don't really know hip-hop Kerry and Kerry from the Bronx... that was a part of my brand that I wasn't doing a good enough job getting out there.”
How often do we hear A-list actors talk about their brand? As in, actually using the words “my brand.” Usually, for someone like Kerry, who makes a point to separate the personal from the professional, “brand” is a dirty word. I also love the revelation that Kerry knows how people perceive her. She’s the ivy league-educated, politically outspoken Friend of Hillary. We don’t know Kerry from the Bronx but she wants us to. And now, we all really want to hang out with hip-hop Kerry, right?
I’ll leave you with these ADORABLE photos of Kerry and Aziz Ansari Variety just released in support of their ‘Actors on Actors’ series. Which Kerry shows up to hang out with Aziz? Click here.