By Susan Tellem, Partner, Tellem Grody PR, Inc.
After watching Saturday Night Live (SNL) for most of its 41 years, I can say with certainty that it is rude, crude and often hilarious. Producer Lorne Michaels has pretty much free rein on who hosts the show, so NBC left him alone when he invited Republican POTUS hopeful and front runner Donald Trump to host this past Saturday night. Did Trump help or hurt his brand by doing the show? I say neither.
Unlike some, I am enjoying watching the spectacle that is “the Donald.” He’s not the politician that we expect to run for president, which is precisely why many Americans like him. They are tired of the endless loop of Bushes, Clintons and Kennedys. They want someone who can run the country like a business instead of the government they see failing the middle class. People also enjoy watching people make fun of themselves. So for Trump to host SNL again was a good strategy. Why not; other presidential hopefuls and presidents have hosted as well. To think of this as a campaign stop is silly. Anyone who is at all politically savvy already loves or hates Trump.
A Hispanic coalition, unhappy with Trump’s remarks about immigration and other comments it deemed racist, offered $5,000 for someone to yell from the audience, “Trump’s a racist.” Larry David did, and while it fell flat as a joke, it is the typical type of SNL response to the coalition’s challenge.
While I didn’t think the sketches with Trump were particularly funny – in my opinion, the show has gone downhill from the days of Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Steve Martin and Gilda Ratner, among others – it’s likely they had little effect on his brand. Celebrities and politicians who make fun of themselves generally curry public favor, not the opposite.
In August, Time magazine suggested five reasons why Trump’s brand is so powerful – he’s an outlaw, creator of wealth, symbol of success, feels authentic, and he speaks his mind. Some people don’t like those traits and some do. Nonetheless, for those reasons his brand is strong. For those unsuccessfully trying to torpedo it, I can hear his late dear friend and comedienne Joan Rivers say, “Oh, grow up!”