How KUWTK Sustains an Influencer Marketing Empire for the Kardashians (and now Jordyn Woods)

Jordyn Woods’s BOOHOO Collection drops in a few hours, and the label has already released marketing collateral in prime time i.e. the immediate wake of KUWTK’s latest episode on the scandal-affair. The Kardashian family’s Influencer Marketing strategy is undeniably one of, if not the, most compelling and inspiring instances of monetising influence and in some instances, it has a ripple effect on influencers/celebrities beyond the immediate family. 

Everything you buy or have thought of buying is backed by one or more of the Kardashians — from Pepsi to Adidas to Kiehls to Calvin Klein. The Kardashians also front 5 brands within themselves alone: KKW Beauty, Kylie Cosmetics, Good American, Poosh, and Rob’s sock company (!) Additionally, they don’t just influence our purchasing decisions; they also have a stake in the way we live and eat (or not) — FlatTummyTea, Waist Gang Society and more. 

With their fingers in just about every money bag the industry can offer, why do they continue to air KUWTK in its 16th season and counting? Surely it’s production value cannot be higher than what the family already amasses on social media.

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This chart shows us the total number of unique followers that the Kardashians reach. Between the 6 on social media, they have 596.6M followers in total, but a lot of these are bound to be repeats. What we are interested in is the net number of people that follow one or more of the Kardashians on Instagram — the answer is 334.9M. 

So Why Do We Still Keep Up With The Kardashians? 

via GIPHY

The short answer is this: KUWTK is the backbone of the Kardashian’s influencer marketing empire. It bolsters everything that unfolds on social media and importantly, gives us a narrative — perhaps one of the most important factors for brand awareness and loyalty. Before we can desire, we must understand. 

Arguably, Kendall and Kylie were born into fame, but KUWTK was the springboard for our OG Kardashian sisters (apart from Kim’s ‘home movie’ and friendship with Paris Hilton). We don’t have any reliable numbers which tell us how much the Kardashians were paid for their inaugural episodes of KUWTK, but TMZ reports that the 2017 deal averaged US$150 million for their work through 2020. That is a lot of money for three years. 

…but still not as much as the KarJenner’s net worth. With Kylie set to become the youngest billionaire, the family’s combined net worth is easily in the US$2-3 billions once we add the wealth of Kim, Kourtney, Khloe and Kendall to the mix. KUWTK is a fraction of their paychecks. 

Monetarily, it might be just a speck in their financially stable universe, but KUWTK is the literal fortitude of all content, influence, and marketing that the Kardashians (and their contemporaries) put out there. With the power of reality TV they have bridged the gap between celebrity and consumer so well, it almost feels like the lipkit you just bought was handed to you by Kylie Jenner directly. Which also explains why the launch of Jordyn’s collaboration with BOOHOO could not have come at a more opportune time (or with a more opportune brand name, if you get what I mean…)

In this article I outline two main reasons why KUWTK is the glue that holds this empire together, and why the reality TV show is one of the most powerful marketing strategies to date. 

Reason #1

KUWTK is the epitome of this idiom and is also an ingenious way for the Kardashians to clear misconceptions, garner empathy and ensure that there is little to no negative rapport that surrounds the brand or the individuals. For example, this week’s episode allowed Khloe to air her grievances about the Tristan x Jordyn scandal and also gave Kylie a chance to clear the air about her take on her best friend’s decision. 

More significantly, it thrust Jordyn in the spotlight just hours before the official announcement of #BOOHOOxJORDYNWOODS. 

The trailer for the final, and most waited upon, episodes of KUWTK dropped on June 18th followed by an article from E! News, and here we see the sudden spike in Jordyn’s Instagram follower count: 

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Jordyn hasn’t actually lost any followers since the scandal, so all publicity really is good publicity.

BOOHOO dropped their first teaser video 4 days ago, which got people speculating:

And the latest video revealing Jordyn Woods in JW studded shades was released 10 hours ago (at the time of writing) and has already garnered 85.4K views — that is more than 100 views per minute. If that isn’t ideal timing, I don’t know what is. The BOOHOO team has so cleverly leveraged on such a widely followed TV show to ensure that their campaign is successfully thrust into the limelight.

If we look at @boohoo’s account growth, we also see a clever tactic at play. In the weeks before releasing the new campaign teasers and before the KUWTK episode aired, the brand initiated a giveaway which pre-empted an increase in followers. 

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This increase was maintained as best as possible when interest was sparked over the possibility of a Jordyn collection, and is likely to continue as they post more in tangent with the air of the second KUWTK episode this coming Sunday. 

Reason #2

Back to the Kardashians:

In her latest insta story plug for the newest episode of KUWTK, Kim highlights the crux of reality TV: honesty.

The Kardashians have never shied from the truth, which is perhaps what makes them so influential.

Influencer marketing strategists today tell us that the key to building a successful image is ensuring that there is as little a discrepancy as possible between online and offline personas. Influencers are encouraged to be honest and candid about their experiences: the Kardashians have been doing that since 2007. 

This week’s episode and the next address the heavily contentious incident between Tristan Thompson and Jordyn Woods. To talk about such a heartbreaking issue on camera is to place a degree of trust and respect onto the viewers, all of whom are consumers of the Kardashian brand in one way or another. 

The Kardashians have spent the last 12 years integrating more than 400 million people into their private lives: a testament to how and why anything they put out there will sell. 

Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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