owlnguava: uniquewastelandpeach: silvercitysands: And then this happened…some idle thoughts A…

owlnguava:

uniquewastelandpeach:

silvercitysands:

And then this happened…some idle thoughts

A couple of nights ago, @waltzaboutwhiskyonice commented** thusly on Sam and Caitriona not being pictured together at the VF Oscars after-party : “It becomes obvious to the PR Brain in me that there is clearly more reason for this “must be separate at all award party gigs”…I guarantee we aren’t the only ones who see this . Turns out she was prescient – in short order we’ve gone from JJ cutting and pasting Sam and Cait together in reports of the event, to W-Network (official broadcaster of OL in Canada, no less) posting the above IG story/survey – not only doing the cut-and-paste, but also conflating them entirely with Jamie and Claire. Not the only ones, indeed. What is that old saying? Nature abhors a vacuum? Well, somebody surely created a vacuum; and now we are left to ask: what just happened?

So, for what it’s worth, here is my stab at answering why there is a vacuum and also why, imo, it’s due to a failure of messag(ing) and of brand(ing) for both Caitriona individually and Outlander collectively:

1. First things first – Caitriona:

Caitriona has spent the past year trying to build a “brand” independent of Sam in order to move her career forward and create opportunities beyond OL. We can argue the tactics and perceived success to date; but “then this happened” and it would seem she is back where where she started. Why? 

Caitriona and her team have arguably been sending out the message all year that she is the “not with Sam” actress; or that “with someone else” actress. But with the notable exception of the recent Irish Times piece, they seem to have singularly failed to fill in any blanks as to what Caitriona IS as opposed to what she is NOT. In other words, their messaging has failed to build a brand identity for her as an individual apart from OL/ her role as Claire. Rather, at least as I see it, the messaging employed has simply created a vacuum that just came full-circle, courtesy of outside players: back to the default – and popular - option of “Caitriona and Sam”. No independent brand established (brand management failure); and failed messaging.

2. Outlander:

Let me draw a parallel. In the US: Good Housekeeping; Vogue; The New Yorker. In the UK: Women’s Weekly; Okay; Private Eye. Very different magazine “products”, but for all, both retail appearance (cover) and inside contents change every time they hit the racks. And yet, they all also have one other thing in common: when you pick up that specific magazine title, you know exactly what type of content you’re going to get; each has a carefully cultivated “brand identity” that keeps you coming back, through consistency in the editorial product and [visual] presentation.

Now apply that same concept to an episodic TV show, specifically, to Outlander. What is OL’s brand identity, what is the key “type of content” and [character presentation] that keeps you coming back? I’m pretty certain that top on the list for most is some variation of “the demonstrated bone-deep connection of Jamie and Claire”. During seasons 1-3 (for the most part), those managing OL production built and then stuck to that core brand identity. But in season 4? Not so much – and critics and fans alike noticed the shift: the core “Jamie and Claire” editorial product was weakened in relationship to secondary characters and storylines. And much though messaging was attempted to persuade viewers that was not the case, or to justify the shift that so many perceived, the brand identity OL had so carefully built was weakened. Again, imo, failure in both brand management and in messaging.

So where do Caitriona as an individual brand and OL meet in the above W Network IGstory?

As we head into Season 5 filming, we’ve all become aware that production is seemingly scrambling to re-work their plans for the season as a result of an apparently belated recognition of the negative feedback on Season 4.  We’ve also learned that Caitriona, along with Sam, has earned Producer status for S5. Oddly – or perhaps not, all things considered, this does not seem to have been exactly trumpeted by Starz/Sony (unless I’ve missed something), though it clearly is important to their leads – perhaps particularly Cait – who have, in some cases not so subtly, expressed unease to dissatisfaction with how their characters were written and edited in S4; and their hopes for what their input in S5 will achieve.

As others have also noted, an “the OL leads” picture of Sam and Cait from the VF party would have been an ideal opportunity for Cait’s team to showcase her “promotion” to producer (and thereby to telegraph her interest in writing and directing - brand building); and for Starz/Sony to draw attention back to the centrality of Jamie and Claire, to affirm to a questioning fan (and critic and business partner?) base that they understand that the JC relationship is the core brand identity; while also showcasing the actor, Sam, in whom they have additional current film investment. In the business I’m in, it’s called cross-selling; and when properly executed, with compatible products, it works. For some reason, that opportunity was eschewed. Another vacuum was created. And “then this happened”.  The, possibly literally imo, multi-million dollar question is, why allow this to happen? @waltzaboutwhiskyonice has posited that she senses a ‘disturbance’ in the firmament. Is it the departure of Albrecht? Is it the impact of the new hierarchy?  Or something else entirely? As usual, we are left observing; and guessing….

Anyway.. those were just my idle thoughts. For those with the fortitude who stuck with me this far, I thank you!!

** @waltzaboutwhiskyonice in her original post titled Edited after VF pics- A few thoughts about Oscar parties and then; and she has subsequently  elaborated eloquently on that post.  If you haven’t already, do go check out ‘s blog, especially her post-VF party musings. Very illuminating, and I thank her very much for the inspiration, and hope she doesn’t object too much to where I wandered with it…

Great piece @silvercitysands. Thanks for your thoughts. It certainly adds clarity to a rather confusing situation. I hope you continue to offer follow-up pieces as this situation unfolds. Thanks!

Excellent post!👏🏼👏🏼 I also thought of the vacuum yesterday. It’s like listening in to a seashell and it’s anything but silence.

Yes, vacuum. Regardless of their relationship status, imagine the effort her team put in disassociating her from Sam be devoted to curate her professional presence (the latest Irish Times article?), we would have got to know her as a reader, a writer, a producer, an actress, a philanthropist etc. Now what I got is she’s not with her costar and engaged. Remember the KDS’s interview and Sam’s cOnGrAtuLaTiOnS? The printed interview about Sam being her wedding planner? As a career woman, I don’t care about it? I want to know her in her own light? I’m not even interested in her relationship with Sam.

Fans love her as who she is, not who she is not. It’s not shipper filter to love her with Sam. She was flirty, wild, funny, happy, humorous, playful, sassy, fierce when she was not avoiding association with Sam, again regardless of their relationship. Who was she in the past year? Who was she when she was with her official SO? I want to but don’t see her at all.

Leave a Reply

AWSOM Powered