May 10, 2023

The rise and fall of the Kardashians

What you can learn for your business from this family dynasty 

Why are the Kardashians famous?

It’s a question I’m sure is keeping you up at night.

Despite their many achievements and what the Kardashians and Hollywood want you to think versus looking at reality, the Kardashians don't have talent that's up to industry standards. The Kardashians sisters CANNOT act, sing, or dance; most of them are not models, they can’t speak eloquently, they are not poets or politicians, their business ventures are mediocre, and Kardashian products are abysmal at best. 

So why are they household names?

Some suggest that the Kardashians manipulated their way through Hollywood achieving their fame through a series of strategic “publicity stunts” and their reality show. 

It’s my opinion the Kardashians are not that cunning. I personally believe it’s a yes and.. Situation, like any good improv class will tell you. I think that’s what the Kardashians were doing: they were improvising their rise to fame, and it somehow worked. I don’t believe that the Kardashians are manipulative media masterminds. But there was one component which allowed this family to rise to fame that wouldn’t have worked today. 


The culture in 2007–2009 is not the same culture we have in 2023. The radio stations blasted pop music in the early to mid-2000s with lyrics consisting mainly of sex, drinking, partying, dancing, and hitting the club. Remember the Black Eyed Peas, LMFAO, 3Oh!3, Ke$ha (before she took away the dollar sign)? Songs about apple bottom jeans and women’s “humps”—songs that would probably be lambasted as not PC if they were to come out today. We were coming out of the recession and wanted to dance, make money, and escape

We wanted to escape; we were obsessed with the celebrity. A lot of people think the Kardashians were the first reality TV family to be famous, but they weren’t; in the early 2000s were the Osbornes, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, Britney Spears, and K-fed. Reality TV was the original Instagram story. We were able to get to see what goes on behind the scenes; we were able to learn what it’s like to be famous. And we ate it up. We were obsessed with wealth in the same way we are today with Instagram. Shows like my Super Sweet 16, MTV Cribs, and the Simple Life with Paris Hilton. 

Society ASPIRED to become what they saw on TV. It was before Covid, before a lot of collective societal trauma. Mainstream media had an air of delusional optimism.

In 2007 come the Kardashians, Sunday night on E! Network, and the formula was perfect: a family living in LA with wealth, moderate fame, rising success, a tight-knit rambunctious family, and, oh yeah… beauty. Although the Kardashians we know today look nothing like the Kardashians we knew in season one, as a teenager I always found all the Kardashians beautiful in their own right. With the hair, make-up, clothes, purses, Bentleys, and expensive salads, society watched and escaped their mundane, less privileged lives to keep up with the Kardashians. 

We were hooked, and we were influenced.

You can’t doubt the Kardashians' influence on society while looking at the vast amounts of women and men who surgically modified their bodies to look more like Kim or Kylie. Makeup brands began selling contour because Kim taught us how to lose weight with the magic of makeup. The Kardashians had society by the throat. 

This was at a pivotal moment in pop culture at the cusp of social media. The Kardashians used their reality show to be their first social media; they perfected the phenomenon of parasocial relationships, the notion that the audience feels as if they personally know the celebrities or public figures they follow. The Kardashians shamelessly exploited intimate details of their lives, and their fans felt they knew them. 

Soon after Twitter and Instagram came into the fold, the Kardashians mastered the art of using social media to “talk to their audience.” From tweets of Kim asking what lipstick she should wear today to posting videos promoting their products with a  “Hey what’s up you guys… you guys are never gonna believe what I am wearing right now….” They were not above the audience; they were talking to the audience. They were their audience. In some backward, reverse-uno way, their wealth and fame turned them into these “relatable” celebrities that the A-listers had not accepted. 

We wanted to be them because they were beautiful, rich, and funny, and we felt we knew them. 

The Fall of the Kardashians 

Unfortunately, the Kardashians flew too close to the sun, and many believe the Kardashians are “falling off.” 


The same reason they rose to fame is the same reason they are falling from it. 


Not to mention a sea of bad press the Kardashians have been a part of, such as the multiple deaths at AstroWorld, the Balenciaga scandal, ripping Marilyn Monroe’s dress at the MET Gala, and so on. 

If we put all that aside, culture is why the Kardashians might not be relevant in 5 years. 

Things over the last few years got really bad. There was the #MeToo movement, the pandemic, climate change, another recession, and a global mental health crisis

All of a sudden, the world has sobered up from their delusions, and societal values are not what they were in the early 2000s. Collectively we value our mental and physical health; there is more sensitivity around money and power. It’s almost as if Kim Kardashian is a Marie Antionette of her time, so out of touch with her own power; in a world suffering from disease and poverty, just “let them eat cake” or, as Kim put it “get your a** up and work.” We as a society are just a bunch of pissed off French people with pitchforks.

The amount of out-of-touch social faux pas is unforgettable… 

  • Remember when Kendall Jenner ended racism with a can of Pepsi? 
  • Ms. Enviormentaliste Kylie Jenner begged the very relatable question, “Your private jet or mine?” 
  • Or the other “mishap”: How Kim Kardashian managed to fly her 40 closest friends to Mexico in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic when the rest of the world was not allowed to work or see their grandchildren. 

They used to relate to society with their wealth and power, but now their wealth and power have diluted their influence and personal style. 

Side bar: Let’s (briefly) talk about style: 

The Kardashians are losing their status in the fashion industry. 

What is happening now in fashion is a return to classic elegance. In contrast, the Kardashian style is about opulence and extravagance. 

The MET Gala theme this year is Karl Lagerfeld. Even makeup styles are more subdued with “a less is more” approach. Think soap brows…Yes, for those who don't know, it's a trend to use soap as make-up. 

Socialites are on the rise for their fashion, like Sophia Richie, who dresses “old money, French, but somehow Rhode-island at the same time” chic. The Kardashians are becoming tacky, and what TikTok zoomers deem cheugy: a fate worse than death. 

Bottom line: Culture (and fashion) is changing, evolving. Technology and Covid have made us increasingly isolated; the needs of the audience are to connect and relate with their parasocial relationships, and the Kardashians are not able to put the genie back in the bottle and become less famous and more relatable.

What you can learn from this:

I find pop culture interesting because it points back to the needs of society and what society is experiencing in order to be obsessed with a particular celebrity, trend, or lifestyle, love it or hate it. The fact that you have any opinion on pop culture reflects back on the world you live in. 

What can we learn from the rise and fall of the Kardashians? Everything can be traced back to one word: trust. Build trust with your audience.

How to build trust: 

       a. Authenticity

        b. Vulnerability

The Kardashians are where they are because they established a relationship with society; they spoke to them when other celebrities spoke down. 

Here are a few marketing questions you should ask in order to build trust: 

  • How are you handling customer service? 
  • Are you responding to reviews and comments?
  • Are you showing your brand's personality, value system, and ethos in order to build a connection with your audience?
  • What are you giving to the audience that puts forth a notion of trust? A giveaway? Discounts? 
  • Are you speaking directly to your audience with captivating copywriting using words like “you” and a catchy call to action? 
  • Are you drawing in your audience with captivating storytelling rather than pushing and selling? 
  • Are you sensitive to the times without looking like a try-hard? 
  • Are you utilizing influencer marketing? 
  • What values are important to you as a business owner that you will NEVER sell out on? 
  • What does brand integrity mean to you? 
  • What are three brands you trust and why? How can you emulate those traits in your business?

Answer these questions and learn how to market while keeping your feet on the ground relating to and connecting with your audience. It will work. 

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