‘TheAudience’ Flips the Script on Celebrity PR

Jeremy Piven Ari Goldman Entourage

Jeremy Piven Ari Goldman EntourageThe public feels a unique combination of respect, envy and resentment toward celebrities. This is nothing new.

But thanks to the wonders of social media, we’re closer to the stars we love and hate than ever before. Now a new company wants to revolutionize the celebrity PR game via social media–and it’s making publicists and agents all over Hollywood very nervous.

What is TheAudience? It’s an alternately “stealthy” and “mysterious” startup backed and promoted by two of the biggest names in the West Coast media world: Napster/Facebook co-founder Sean Parker (who you may know as Justin Timberlake) and Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel (who you may know as Jeremy Piven).

But its driving force is Oliver Luckett, a former programmer, Disney PR man and full-color personality whose hobbies, according to The New York Times, include driving around LA in an Aston Martin and traveling to Iceland (our new favorite country) “to to compete against Bjork in a gingerbread house-building contest”. We like the guy already! His key selling point? He’s figured out a way around the traditional Hollywood PR system.

What does TheAudience do, exactly? The company effectively manages the social media presence of celebrities who don’t have the time (or interest) to do it themselves. But this is no automated status update machine: Team members feed fans a steady stream of content via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus, keeping them occupied with exclusive comments, pictures and videos.

The key difference between old-school PR services and this newfangled arrangement is that the content truly does come from the celebrities themselves:

Luckett and team take the time to sit down with big names like Mark Wahlberg, Eddie Murphy, Charlize Theron, Usher and Pitbull, plotting out several weeks’ worth of exclusive material that will keep their names (and upcoming projects) in fans’ minds every day–and all of it with the explicit approval and input of the famous faces behind the accounts. TheAudience puts the power back into the hands of the stars, helping them promote the movies/brands/charities of their choice without the dangers that come with DIY social media accounts (hello, Chris Brown).

In short, TheAudience makes it easier for celebs to develop “long-term emotional relationships” with “highly engaged fans”. You can see why this personalized approach is a whole lot more appealing than receiving standard marketing messages about your favorite stars’ latest movies, right?  This fact isn’t lost on agents and studio publicists, who’ve already begun to gripe about being “strong-armed” into paying “extra fees ” in order to promote new properties whose stars happen to have contracts with TheAudience.

Will Luckett and his team turn the traditional Hollywood publicist into a dinosaur? Only time will tell–and we can’t wait to watch.

We have a feeling there will be blood.