TV mogul behind the world-wide “Real Housewives” franchise told MarketWatch he would “broker the deal” if Harry and Meghan want to launch their own reality TV show.
“They’ve got lightning in a bottle,” says Scott Dunlop of the royal rebels. “They’re a branding machine. If they wanted to do a ‘real’ show, as long as they’re being themselves, as long as they’re being authentic, of course it would be a winner.” He says he raised the idea independently with his wife before this week’s news.
He adds: “I’d talk to them. I’d broker the deal.”
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(Real Housewives’ current executive producer, Andy Cohen, on Thursday night tweeted TWTR, -0.27% to Meghan an offer to appear on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” – a program she used to watch.)
The chances of that happening, of course, are slim to none, especially if they’re building a royal brand in the U.S.
The royal couple’s Instagram post website highlights their desire to work on building their charitable mission through their own foundation.
The couple trademarked products under their ‘Sussex Royal’ brand.
Harry and Meghan — also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — shocked the world this week by announcing they were stepping back from their royal duties in the U.K. They say they will be dividing their jet-setting lives between the U.K. and somewhere in North America. They will also “work to become financially independent” of the British royal family, though they did not say how.
Harry is reported to have several million dollars, inherited from his mother Diana, who died in 1997, and his great-grandmother, the Queen Mother, who died in 2002. Meghan is thought to be worth about $6.5 million, mainly from her time on the USA Network legal drama “Suits.”
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These sorts of sums sound princely to ordinary mortals. But they may not be enough to support a quasi-royal household, complete with security, indefinitely. In a place like Beverly Hills, even a five-bedroom house can set you back nearly $30 million. An annual withdrawal of 3% from the portfolio would generate income in the first year of $1.2 million before tax.
Comedy writer Gary Janetti’s satirical account on the royal family imagines “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” with cast member Meghan Markle:
The royal couple has yet to announce where in North America they are likely to land. Vancouver in Canada, the city they recently visited, has a population of less than 700,000. Prince Harry reportedly complained about the rain.
On Monday, Queen Elizabeth issued a statement: “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”
‘I’m sure she understands the influencer ecosystem.’
A reality TV show may be unlikely, Dunlop concedes. But it has enormous potential for the couple. “I think the public would like to see in an unfiltered way what it’s like for them at home. They have to be honest with the audience. They have to show their real selves, not their royal selves,” he says.
Reality shows, though widely regarded as low-brow forms of entertainment by some industry veterans, have proved lucrative for some of its cast members. Bethenny Frankel, one of the original cast members of “The Real Housewives of New York,” turned her idea for a slimline cocktail business into a Skinny Girl brand and, in April 2011, sold the business to Fortune Brands, now part of the Japanese company Suntory 2587, +0.55%, for a reported $100 million.
The Sussexes have already trademarked products under their “Sussex Royal” brand, with a logo that combines the letters H and M in a flowing, copperplate font under a crown. The trademark can be applied to their charitable foundation, but also to commercial products.
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Their Instagram FB, +1.77% account has 10.6 million followers. Hype Auditor, a professional website that analyzes social media, ranks their page 564th in the world and says it has “excellent” audience authenticity, engagement and reachability.
In terms of marketing potential, 80% of their Instagram followers are female, with most in their 20s and 30s, says Hype Auditor. The Sussex’s fans are most interested in beauty, fashion, art, design, restaurants and food.
For advertisers and marketers this is the sweet spot.
“Can you think of anyone better positioned than Meghan and Harry to create media buzz?” asks Monica Dwyer, a financial adviser in West Chester, Ohio. “The two of them together are a powerhouse.”
Meghan Markle “is a former actor. I’m sure she understands the influencer ecosystem,” says Dunlop.
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Reality TV programs can generate enormous revenues through product tie-ins. Whether the Sussexes want to go this route, and risk the criticism they would probably get from the U.K., is another matter. They could, for instance, take a more high-brow approach with a streaming service like Apple AAPL, +2.14% or Netflix NFLX, +3.00%.
“It would be great if the cameras were rolling right now,” Dunlop says, “behind the scenes.”