Unseen Unknown

12: Celebrity Culture, Platform Brands and Parasocial Relationships

Episode Summary

The nature of celebrity culture has changed in recent years, most notably with the rise of the influencer brand. But why is this happening now, and how have our digital tribes changed because of it? We speak with Cameo co-founder Steven Galanis about how he built a platform that has taken celebrity-fan culture to new levels of access, and sociologist and author Chris Rojek about the parasocial relationships and ‘presumed intimacy’ that is outpacing other forms of relationship in our lives.

Episode Notes

When Steven Galanis and his cofounders launched Cameo in 2016, they noticed two things happening in the celebrity landscape: 1) fame itself has blown up, with more celebrities existing than in any other time in history, and 2) that these celebrities collectively enjoy more fame than their counterparts in the past. The overall mass of celebrity is increasing, and Cameo was built as a marketplace to give that celebrity mass more efficiency in reaching its fan base, and of course, monetizing it. 

As Cameo approaches its millionth video made, the company has unlocked an enormous well of unmet demand, and become one of the fastest growing marketplaces in the US.

In this episode, we speak with Cameo’s cofounder Steven Galanis about the cultural drivers that make a company like this possible during a time like now, and how he made some very specific decisions in positioning and branding that have started to pay off.

We also speak with sociologist and author Chris Rojek about how the nature of celebrity culture has changed over recent years, spawning the modern lifestyle influencer and a culture of self-disclosure that provides this new figure with their audience. 

We also discuss Rojek’s research on parasocial relationships and “presumed intimacy” in order to understand what is happening in the space and the emotional layer of celebrity-fan relationships that drives our behavior. 

Links to interesting things mentioned in this episode and further reading:

For more brand strategy thinking: