Bethenny Frankel and the Making of a Celebrity Brand

Lizzie Widdecombe, writing for The New Yorker:

Frankel’s deal with Beam requires her to make promotional appearances for her liquor brand. In the car, she asked her employee, a polished blond twenty-six-year-old named Alexandra Cohen, “Is this for Spicy Lime or Pinot?” Cohen explained that it was for neither. Frankel would be meeting a group of life-style bloggers who had been hired by Beam to act as “influencers” for Skinnygirl Cocktails. “These are ten bloggers who are going to share with every single follower that they met you, and that you’re inspirational,” Cohen said. She added, firmly, “It’s important that you message the right things to these people. Because these people have a ton of followers.”

“O.K.,” Frankel said. “Why did they only pick ten, though?” She’s active on Twitter, but the nuances of social media sometimes escape her. (An agency called DM2 manages most of her social-media accounts.)

“Because they’re the most influential.”

“Influential of what?”

“Messaging of cocktails,” Cohen said. “Like, if you tweet something about a cocktail, it goes to 1.4 million people. One of these girls tonight—Lauryn Evarts, of the Skinny Confidential—she has half a million followers. It’s a blog. And she worships you. She’s, like, ‘I want to be the next Bethenny Frankel.’ ”

The car pulled up outside the James Hotel, where the women were greeted by a Beam marketing executive and the bloggers, who looked like younger versions of Frankel. They wore brightly colored cocktail dresses and had well-honed personal brands. Evarts said, “I’m all about having kale in one hand and champagne in the other. Balance, balance, balance!”

Looking around the party room in the hotel’s basement, Frankel delivered critiques in the form of a comic riff: “The lighting in here! I feel like we should seal the windows and turn on the gas. It’s depressing! Jesus Christ. If we sell a couple more bottles, maybe we could get better lighting.” A Beam employee rushed to adjust the dimmer.

I read this piece at 3:30am, unable to fall back asleep after a feeding, so I don’t know if that skewed my critical thinking, but I can’t say for sure if this is either a horrifying tale that portends a certain cultural armageddon, or a beautiful, glimmering example that The American Dream is alive and well.