Clorox has found value in the
franchise as a sponsor of "The Bachelorette" since 2012. "We wanted
a partner in the reality-TV space. We wanted to connect with
consumers on social, and reality lends itself to that type of
conversation," said Molly Steinkrauss, associate marketing
Aside from custom TV spots, Clorox also sponsors a "The
Bachelorette" "Bleachable Moment of the Week," essentially blooper
reels of embarrassing and regrettable moments. Clorox also gives
fans an opportunity to unlock unaired clips.
The campaign resulted in more than 2 million social engagements
across Facebook and Twitter last season, averaging an 8% engagement
rate, double the industry average of 4%, according to the
As a result, Clorox has signed on to the next season of "The
Bachelorette," which will air in the spring.
All told, the multishow franchise brought in about $187.3
million in advertising for ABC during the 2014-15 season, according
to Kantar Media, down from the $212.5 million it snagged in
2012-13, but up from $111.3 million in 2007-08.
The media landscape is more cluttered, but
the franchise has been remarkably consistent
Source: Kantar Media.
Charts by Chen Wu.
That's not to say "The Bachelor" hasn't had its fair share of
ratings erosion. It has seen a precipitous decline in viewers since
around season 14, shedding about 30% of its total audience that
watches live or on the same day. Current ratings are a far cry from
its peak of averaging more than 14 million viewers in its second
Its median viewer age has also increased significantly, to about
53 years old this year from about 45 in 2006.
"The Bachelor" has received its fair share of criticism, too,
spanning its relentless lack of racial diversity and questions
about just how "real" the show actually is. These issues and many
more were caricatured this year in the Lifetime drama "UnReal,"
which was cocreated by a former associate producer of "The
Bachelor." In Lifetime's scripted, exaggerated take on the genre,
we see producers do everything from getting contestants drunk to
tampering with their medications.
But none of that has stopped the core Bachelor Nation from
tuning in. Since 2012, the audience has remained stable, with the
past four seasons averaging just over 8 million viewers. And while
the show's audience has certainly aged, it has also become more
affluent, with its median income increasing by about $10,000 over
the past decade.
"There's a ratings stability," said Darcy Bowe, VP-media
director, Starcom. "[As an advertiser] you know what
you are going to get week after week."
For the most part, new technologies and platforms haven't
meaningfully changed the show.
"We are never going to alter the crux of the format. There will
always be a rose ceremony, one-on-one dates, group dates and
hometown dates," said Robert Mills, senior VP-alternative series,
specials and late-night programming, ABC Entertainment.
The franchise has sometimes tried to shake things up, however,
with mixed results.
The most recent season of "The Bachelorette" featured two women
vying for the key role throughout the first episode, with the power
to decide in the hands of the gaggle of male suitors. The decision
to have two bachelorettes was made just two weeks before production
started and was based on Bachelor Nation's interest in both women,
Mr. Mills said.
"The audience has become a silent producer," Mr. Mills said.
"They help decide who the leads should be, the kind of dates they
want to see; it really makes them feel they are on the journey
But the decision received plenty of backlash, with critics
calling it sexist.
Another unpopular move was ending nearly every episode last
season with a cliffhanger instead of a rose ceremony.
While the Nielsen numbers indicated that the tactic brought more
people to the opening of the next episode, "fans were frustrated,"
said Mike Fleiss, executive producer and creator of the series.
"We like to listen to the fans and see what they are responding
to," he said, adding that as a result, there will be fewer
cliffhangers this season.
"If it wasn't for social media, we maybe wouldn't have made the
decision to reduce the number of cliffhangers," Mr. Fleiss said. "I
would have just looked at Nielsen," which would have indicated it
was a success.
"How you utilize social media is the multimillion-dollar
question and an enigma across TV," said Mr. Harrison. "How do you
implement it and monetize it? It is really hard. But for us, it
"This is 100% the definition of a viral campaign," he added. "It
happened organically. When you try, that's when it's not authentic
and feels false."
While "The Bachelor" may naturally lend itself to social media,
both the producers and ABC have made an effort to facilitate that
conversation. That includes Mr. Harrison tweeting along with
Bachelor Nation during the show. And it certainly helps that former
contestants, who have developed their own fan bases, tweet along as
Social media has also created some challenges, especially as it
pertains to keeping details of the season a secret. It has become
next to impossible to avoid images of the contestants' dates
appearing on Twitter, or someone snapping a picture of a rejected
contestant on a plane ride home.
"We are not afraid to tell you things," said Jill Gershman,
VP-comedy and alternative series, marketing, ABC Entertainment, who
helped launch "The Bachelor." "We are letting viewers in on the
story. We reveal more now and are more open with the audience. We
will tell you someone is going home. … The shock is more how
we get there than the thing itself."
There's also been a concerted effort to turn the show into a
weekly event. Even if the dates and rose ceremonies aren't actually
airing live, ABC is attempting to create a sense of urgency to get
viewers to tune in live.
The finales the last few seasons have had live "wraparounds"
where Mr. Harrison essentially hosts a live viewing party from a
Los Angeles studio.
"In this DVR, digital world, we still like people to view live
or within three days, so marketing it as a live event helps us to
do that," Ms. Gershman said.
ABC has created some live episodes, like "After the Final Rose,"
where viewers get a chance to see what happened to the couple since
the final rose ceremony. And this summer, ABC introduced a live
postshow for "Bachelor in Paradise" called "After Paradise," giving
viewers the opportunity to talk live with contestants.
The producers are planning another live component to air toward
the end of next season, Mr. Fleiss said, declining to provide
"Brands are looking for live and looking for buzz, and 'The
Bachelor' checks off both boxes," Zenith's Mr. Vendetti said.
While "The Bachelor" wasn't created with any of this in mind
(Mr. Fleiss admits he didn't even know how to send a text message
when the show first started), it has embraced the opportunity to
create a robust digital community.
It's not something ABC plans to give up anytime soon. "It has
the potential to be on for the indefinite future," Mr. Mills
Executives involved in the enduring success and longevity of The
Bachelor franchise will be speaking at Ad Age's Brand Summit on
Nov. 4 in Los Angeles. Register here: http://adage.com/events/brand-summit/