A Gripping Soap Oprah
Like the rest of the world, we’ve spent the last few days keeping a sharp eye on the drama unfolding between Meghan, Harry, and the Royal institution, culminating in an ‘explosive’ interview that finally aired on ITV at 9pm last night. We thought we’d take this opportunity to speak with some of our bright minds at Fever, to see what they thought about this unique comms strategy and what it might mean for the future of the Royal family.
Caroline Farley, Managing Director
From a comms perspective, I remain unconvinced that the traditional expose style interview we all tuned into last night does anything more than deepen the existing rifts between the parties involved. With a barrage of shocking claims and accusations coming from both sides, no one is ever going to emerge as the victor (other than the master that is Oprah), and it’s difficult to make an informed opinion when you have to wade through so much mud-slinging.
Whilst I certainly sympathised with Harry and Megan’s ordeal over the past four years and understood their desire to tell their side of the story, I fear that this won’t be the catalyst for change I think they hoped it might be. The interview painted a picture of an institution that is, at best, outdated, at worst, ignorant and obsessed with image and protocol over compassion and integrity. The effects of that will be damaging and divisive, especially given the staunch loyalty towards the Crown that remains intrinsically baked into a large proportion of British society and media.
I think it’s fair to say the Royal Family isn’t famed for moving with the times, embracing change or acting swiftly to controversy. For that reason, I’m not going to hold my breath that any lessons will be learnt, or meaningful change will be implemented because of last night’s interview.
Abbie Hughes, Director
Forget #TeamQueen or #TeamMeghan, I am #TeamOprahsPRteam; the comms strategy was first class.
Let’s face it, this was not an interview that was ever going to be a slog to get coverage for, but the way they executed the tease, trailer and follow up was brilliant. A tease where the ‘silent or silenced’ protagonist didn’t actually speak allowed media (and social media) to fill in the gaps the way they wanted, swiftly followed by a longer trailer that created a further build-up of suspense. But my favourite part was the follow up, holding back further snippets of the interview to be played out on CBS This Morning created a further swell of coverage and conversation and I’m assuming didn’t hurt from a ratings perspective either ; perfectly timed to pick back up the momentum in the States and dovetail nicely into the interview going live here in the UK.
Charlotte Woods, Account Director
The interview was a brave move from Meghan and Harry, and I could sense Harry’s slight nervousness and feeling a little uncomfortable. Before watching, my initial and personal reaction was that it was a brave move and I needed to watch it when everyone else was watching. As the Monday rolled on and the headlines started to roll through I felt sorry for Megan – whilst social media supported her bravery and her struggles with mental health, many traditional media platforms criticised her interview technique, comparing herself to a Disney princess and anything else they could grasp onto.
As I watched the interview, I had the greatest sense of sympathy for Meghan and Harry and their story, even though I don’t agree with all their decisions, you cannot deny the way they describe their feelings. No one has the right to say that people are attention seeking, dramatic or whatever other labels you want to attach to them, for looking after their own mental health and that of their family. For that reason it was a great step forward in communication around mental health, suicide and racism for which it should be applauded.
I don’t expect a lot to change in terms of how the Royal family or Harry and Meghan are treated and I don’t think it will change the historic patterns of behaviour of the Royal Family, but its steps towards addressing racism and mental health are important and should not be ignored.
Claudia Hockey, Account Executive
The Harry and Meghan interview aired so much later here than in the US and other countries such as South Africa. This meant that information UK viewers had on it throughout the day was filtered through friends in other countries, as well as through the press. Yesterday morning began with an aggressive and shocking interrogation of Meghan’s mental health by ITV, but British viewers then had to wait until 9pm that night to see the full feature. The delay helped build anticipation, but also gave UK media the opportunity to reflect on how the feature had been received in the US and react accordingly.
It left me thinking too – how much has my perception of this interview already been shaped by what I’ve read? If I hadn’t known about Charles’ rumoured tendency to send his press team after members of the family, would I have understood Harry’s reference to ‘calling off the dogs’? Regardless, Oprah repeatedly focusing on ‘the firm’ as a brand and giving Meghan the opportunity to discuss its racism was a historic moment, and this interview will be talked about for years to come.