Howard Bragman on Andy Warhol
Howard Bragman is Hollywood's premier public relations professional. He founded Bragman Nyman Cafarelli Public Relations and Marketing (BNC) in 1989. The Company is one of the most respected public relations agencies in the United States with billings of more than $15 million annually and a blue-chip client roster of celebrities, consumer products and events. In 2001 BNC was purchased by Interpublic, one of the world's largest holding companies for marketing companies. He founded a strategic media and public relations agency, Fifteen Minutes, in 2005.
Bragman is a nationally respected crisis counselor and has provided litigation support for a significant number of high-profile cases and individuals. These include: Joseph Steffan who was kicked out of the US Naval Academy for his sexual orientation; The Lewinsky Family; and Sharon Smith in Smith v. Knoller, a high-profile civil rights and justice trial involving a tragic dog mauling death. Bragman was also an adjunct professor of Public Relations at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communications for six years and has been honored for his teaching excellence by his students and the University. Bragman has written articles for publications including: Advertising Age, The Advocate, The Los Angeles Times and Playboy. A frequent television guest on issues involving the entertainment industry and popular culture, Bragman has appeared on local and network news programs more than 100 times. He has been a featured speaker for numerous groups including The US Conference of Mayors; The UJC Youth Congress; and many others. He is also the author of Where's My Fifteen Minutes?: Get Your Company, Your Cause, or Yourself the Recognition You Deserve.
Question: What does Andy Warhol have to do with branding today? Bragman: I think the ‘60s and ‘70s are kind of the time when we experimented with fame, and I think he was, he ran the studio that was almost a lab for being famous. They talked about a lot of people. There’s a lot of actors, a lot of artists, a lot of journalists who came out of there, and he created this culture of celebrity. He created a mystique, and he was one of the first ones to really do that and realize that you could do it on a much larger scale by branding people, which is something that’s become commonplace today but wasn’t so common for people back then. It certainly was for cars and light bulbs and everything else. Question: What would Andy Warhol say about personal branding? Bragman: I think he would say, “Be authentic and have fun with it,” because nobody had more fun with it. What you knew about Warhol was he was in on the joke, and I often tell my celebrities that you got to be in on the joke. When I worked with Monica Lewinsky, we went on Saturday Night Live, she said, “Why would we do that?” And I said, “We have to show that you get the joke.” And, you know, early on in my career, I represented LA Gear, the sneaker company and I got a story for them in a major business publication, I got an advanced copy faxed to me. That was the old days when we faxed, and I got this story and it was a horrible story. The company eventually had big financial problems. It’s this horrible story, and I just started my company less than a year before and I said, “Oh, my God, this horrible story is out, my business is going to go under. I’m going to be out on the streets eating dog food,” and I called a friend of mine and said, “It’s over,” and he said, “Howard…” I said, “Yeah?” He said, “It’s tennis shoes.” And I’ve never forgotten that because 99% of the time, it’s tennis shoes, okay? It’s tennis shoes. It’s not life or death struggles that we’re talking about here. And so you’re allowed to make a mistake, that’s the human condition is to make mistakes, and we live in this great Judeo-Christian culture that allows you to make mistakes as long as you apologize, appear contrite. Why did O. J. get convicted again? Because he wasn’t contrite, okay? It wasn’t so much about the mistake as the lack of contrition on his part. He stood in court and said, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” If he had said, “I made a mistake. I acted out of arrogance.” I think the judge and the jury would have been a little more sympathetic towards him.
Howard Bragman on getting more than 15 minutes.
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