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If you haven't joined me and the 60 million who have watched Bridgerton on Netflix, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. My grandmother blamed me for it when Pride and Prejudice Gossip Girl meets Fifty Shades of Gray. This wasn't entirely convincing considering her affinity for daytime TV soap dramas, but what else did I do?
Hours later, I was enchanted and wanted more. The strategist in me wondered what deeper connection resonated with today's audience (besides the steamy love scenes). My hypothesis? Predictability.
The show's emphasis on action-oriented consequences, mutual respect between peers and partners and a defined path to self-realization offer an inviting escape from the background of uncertainty. Let's take a closer look at how each of these components should be attractive to modern marketers.
Related: 82 million households streamed "Bridgerton". Now fashion brands can't keep corsets in stock.
Actions = consequences
We live in a time when everyone can say something or tweet something. This is why Bridgerton fascinates audiences by taking place at a time when actions had clear consequences. Bridgerton's Lady Whistledown is a gossip columnist, but she is also a voice of truth who holds people accountable for their actions. Your reporting has incredible power and influence and shapes the way people are viewed in society. Bad behavior leads to quick criticism that can destroy a reputation – even the entire family name.
Fast forward from 1813 to the late 1990s when reality TV became a global phenomenon. With Survivor and Big Brother, producers discovered that they could create entertaining content without hiring script actors. The more shocking the events they could orchestrate, the more eyeballs they would attract. While Bridgerton's characters wanted to stay away from Lady Whistledown's bad side, reality TV stars and presenters were rewarded with longer airtime for bad behavior.
We began a downward spiral of glorifying annoying characters, bullied hosts, and moved other candidates to tears. For some, there is no such thing as bad advertising.
With the start of social media, our contact with questionable behavior increased. The diffusion of content blurred our concept of truth and made it difficult to come to clear conclusions. Now, it's difficult for your consumers to tell real headlines from fake ones, and 31% of kids who shared an article on social media posted something that turned out to be wrong.
Whenever there is a different angle, consumers lack the one voice of authority that Lady Whistledown has used to establish order and hold the public accountable.
Some things were still sacred
What our modern society regards as typical behavior would have gone well beyond the limit for the ladies and gentlemen of Bridgerton. No spoilers, but let's just say, in the 19th century, if a man kissed a woman in public, his next step would be to marry her or die for her honor. While I'm not in favor of marriage before public displays of love, if we look at how modern advertising has evolved, applicants could look to Bridgerton as their guide.
When Daphne, our protagonist, is courted, her suitors try to win their hearts through good conversation and make their intentions clear. Any modern bachelorette can attest that today's multi-billion dollar online dating industry is characterized by disruptive and annoying behavior. Women under the age of 35 are particularly at risk, reports Pew.
Whitney Wolfe founded Bumble in 2014 to create a stronger dating space for women. Today, Bumble stock climbs after its groundbreaking IPO, bringing its valuation to $ 8.6 billion. Wolfe is the youngest woman to lead a company through an IPO with an unprecedented board of directors led by 73% women.
For us, Bumble's mission is to create a safe, respectful place to find love, to celebrate, but for the people of Bridgerton, mutual respect would just be something they could naturally expect.
Happiness isn't just a social media post away
While the stages of life used to be clearly defined, we've shifted from ticking off milestones to pursuing self-actualization, and Instagram and other social media apps give the impression that everyone but you has found them. In the elusive quest for happiness, Bridgerton offers the audience the card.
The show presents a world where characters are limited to expected roles. While everyone can test their limits, at the end of the day everyone is clear about their responsibilities. With today's lack of structure and increased flexibility in all areas of our lives, consumers find solace in escaping into a time when life was straightforward and expected.
Consider a traditional career path. The old model promised newcomers the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder until they retire at the ripe old age of 65. Our 21st century careers are self-directed, which Deloitte describes as "difficult and unforgiving". It is characterized by flat organizational structures, a lack of defined progress, in which established employees report to junior staff, and an atmosphere in which relevant skills quickly become obsolete.
While we indulge in our power to choose our own paths, a privilege our Bridgerton characters didn't have, consumers want bumpers and ways to track milestones.
Peloton is a shining example of how consumers create order in their lives. The brand's latest financials reported $ 1.83 billion in revenue in FY 20, up from $ 440 million in FY 18. This is part of a larger movement in which community fitness is filling the gaps in traditional institutions like the church . The trend made its rounds in Self Magazine in 2015 and The Atlantic in 2017 and is not going to go away anytime soon.
Related: 10 TV Shows Every Business Owner Should Watch On Netflix
Consumers today face more unknowns than ever before, from inconsistent consequences to a surprising amount of disrespect for executives, colleagues, or potential partners. And a way forward lies with each individual in order to level himself. While Bridgerton is far from a timeless classic, it is certainly a timely escape that leaves audiences lost in a desired period of stability.
As marketers respond to changing expectations about brands in society, we can't forget that change is uncomfortable for most people. The biggest lesson Bridgerton teaches is that the best a brand can offer consumers is predictability.