Opinion: Kate Gosselin, Most Polarizing Spokesperson Ever?

Maybe Kate Gosselin isn’t such a great choice for a spokesperson after all. The star of TLC’s reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8 was recently tapped to promote Procter & Gamble’s brandSaver coupon book. A busy mother of sextuplets, she made her way from Elizabethtown, Pa., to the Big Apple to help launch the brandSaver Live! Pop-up store in midtown Manhattan on Nov. 28. Through Dec. 11, consumers can pop in to get their hair done (thanks to Pantene) or get a makeover (compliments of CoverGirl).
A brief article about the public relations stunt generated hundreds of responses—not because consumers liked or disliked the idea of promoting a coupon book with a live event, but rather because some people absolutely hate Gosselin.
One recent post reads: “Kate Gosselin, the child-exploiter, is a spokesperson for money-saving tips and living on a tight budget?? Well, I’d guess her number one tip would be to start a reality show, which puts your children to work for endless hours because there are no labor laws to protect them in such situations, plastering their faces all over the TV, for any person across the world to have access to . . . and then you and your husband can live off the profits!”

Another: “Procter and Gamble will be sorry they picked her . . . she will suck them dry.”

Despite the harsh outcry from some, P&G rep Glenn Williams said the company itself has received no negative comments at all. “She has been terrifically successful in building positive buzz about P&G and brandSaver.”

Williams added that hundreds lined up to meet her and that “Kate was very gracious. She is anything you’d want and expect from a positive spokesperson . . . Any famous person is going to have that kind of chatter surrounding them.”
Still, the one thing that is strikingly consistent about reader comments was how aware viewers are of the show’s various marketing partnerships. One respondent laundry-listed the brands that have apparently appeared on the show: Croc’s shoes, V-Tech computers, Juicy Juice. Others were quick to point out that Gosselin also promotes Kmart’s holiday layaway plan, as well as the Grain Foods Foundation.

Of course, not all of the posts were of the nasty nature. One rational response said: “My wife and I have been a P&G product user for 30+ years. I will always use them. Some of these people need to release some of their anger.”

While this is probably true, consumer packaged goods marketers like Procter & Gamble, tend to be conservative about with whom they align themselves. Thus, it remains to be seen how many will continue to link themselves with Gosselin. P&G, for one, said they will stick with Gosselin to promote the coupon book for months to come.

This despite the fact that people are going out of their way to log entries like this: “I’m a longggg time Tide/Downy user, nearly 25 years, and this week I’ll be buying a non PG detergent. I’ll forward this article on to my family and friends and let them decide if they wish to pad this screwball’s pockets with their hard and legitimately earned money. Bye-bye P&G.”

That’s not exactly the kind of attention CPG companies generally pay for.