The Branding Iron
● By Style
Illustration by David Norby, © Style Media Group.
I’m done wallowing in relative anonymity. No offense to Style or my main employer, Sacramento’s finest country radio station, KNCI, but there is a whole other level of notoriety out there and I think I want in on it. So, after much careful thought over the last 10 or 15 minutes, I’ve decided the quickest and easiest way to “grow my brand” is to pretty much create a scandal.
In fact, it’s my New Year’s resolution.
See, spectacle is the new spectacular. Shock, the new awe. The straight and narrow has worked fine for me to this point but I can’t help thinking there’s a whole other level out there...a new altitude with a better view. And by that of course, I mean your view of me.
This is going to be great because in the old days, creating success required genuine talent; plus you had to be hard working, charming, driven and lucky. But what worked for Tom Hanks isn’t going to work for Tom Mailey—mostly because Tom Mailey lacks every single quality that Tom Hanks has.
But thankfully, there’s a whole generation of celebrities who have shown that all you really need to create is controversy. Just commit a few undignified offenses, preferably within shooting distance of a reality TV camera or a telephoto lens, and you should be good to go. If you can just shed self-consciousness like an old bathrobe, before you know it you’ll be streaking down your own personal street of dreams with everyone watching…and Tweeting about it.
Of course, this formula isn’t anything revolutionary. It’s been going on since Elvis’ hips got a little too out of control for The Ed Sullivan Show. But thanks to the Internet and reality TV, it’s all so much more incendiary now—just what you need to ignite your own flash in the pan.
There are several approaches one can take. You can go the “what the hell happened to him?” route and Botox your face until the skin’s so tight every time you sneeze you sound like a kazoo. If you’re trying to forever shatter an innocent image, start by going on national TV and shattering the innocent image of something like a “number one” foam finger. Tired of not being taken seriously as a badass, even if your face still has more peach fuzz than whiskers? Smoke weed on Instagram, then take a whiz in some janitor’s mop bucket and in no time your name will be soaring into the troposphere on gossip’s humid updrafts. And there’s more: public drunkenness, filing ridiculous lawsuits, filing ridiculous lawsuits while publicly drunk, punching out cameramen, divorcing to marry, marrying to divorce, naming your kid after a tropical fruit, going on social media and being stupid, mean or Charlie Sheen; wearing clothing made of raw meat, cooking that meat then wearing it again…the possibilities are endless. The only limit is how far you’re willing to go.
So if over the course of the next year I get slugged in the mouth by Kenny Chesney for asking him when he thinks he’ll be tall enough to go on all the rides at Disneyland, or I “accidentally” forget to put on shorts when I go for a jog, or I spend a weekend downing boxed wine and then sue our cat for being emotionally distant, don’t sweat it. It’s just me, working on my brand.