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Bowyer: John And Kate Plus 8 Plus 4.6 Million Minus One

Tuesday, 23 Jun 2009 | 9:59 AM ET

This is the problem with the new 'personal branding' business model: persons are more fragile than business.

We are deeply wired to identify with other people more than with corporations or logos or abstractions. So we key into Oprah or Paris or Lindsay or Anna Nicole more than we key into Coke of Chevy. You can catch and monetize eyeballs with real people. But real people react to fame in ways that a trade marked logo does not. They notice the camera which is noticing them. They ham it up, or play it down. The little indignities of life become public humiliations. The little misunderstandings of life become public scandals.

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Jon & Kate Gosselin

Jon & Kate Gosselin

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The Gosselin family was fragile to begin with.

I'm a father of seven, and they were spread out over 16 years (Christopher is 24; Jack is 8), and it was still very tough. My little bit of public exposure made it even tougher.

You want to give the camera or the microphone more and more. Eventually everything is done for the audience. No one, not the President, not the Pope, not Chuck Norris can live their life in front of millions and not be aware of it.

John and Kate's last episode drew 4.6 million viewers. This kind of glare makes it impossible to see clearly, so does the purported 75 thousand dollars per episode. I'm not sure how many celebrity meltdowns, addictions, breakups and breakdowns before we realize that turning an actual human being, or ten of them into a brand may be a good short-term investment, but has lousy long-term return, especially for the human beings themselves.

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