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The Bachelor franchise is an influencer launchpad: Contestants want fame and money more than love

  • In the early days of The Bachelor franchise, participants had to do club appearances and meet-and-greets to strike while the iron was hot and capitalize on their 15 minutes of fame. But thanks to social media, and Instagram in particular, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette contestants have been able to turn their reality fame into big business. "With the help of social media, the Bachelor franchise has become a launchpad for influencers who sell a wide range of lifestyle products, sustain a growing media ecosystem, and function as recurring characters within the show’s extended universe," says Alyssa Bereznak. "The majority of its contestants now function as brand ambassadors, using their exposure on network television to package the show’s saccharine themes of physical fitness, relationships, love, and parenthood into lucrative independent businesses. Sometimes, they also pair off." Bereznak notes that Bachelor and Bachelorette finalists can now rake in more than 1 million followers — "and all the media opportunities and brand collaborations that come with them." In fact, the Instagram influencer industry has seemingly affected the show itself. "Today, the rapid expansion of the influencer marketing industry, and Bachelor Nation’s stronghold in it, has not only complicated the 'right reasons' narrative, it has threatened the basic mechanics of the show," says Bereznak. "The most recent season of The Bachelorette ended in a breakup because its winner, Jed Wyatt, was revealed to have used the show to promote his music career while also maintaining a secret girlfriend." Bereznak adds: "The chance to become an influencer has become the defining not-right reason to go on The Bachelor(ette). This powerful strain of Instagram fame has spread so far and wide that it cannot be ignored, isolated, or cut out in postproduction. And in recent years, the franchise has even launched spinoffs such as Bachelor in Paradise and Winter Games to support a growing secondary market for the nouveau celebrities who became famous because of its program. What was once a sideshow has now become a competing event."


    TOPICS: Peter Weber, ABC, The Bachelor, Robert Mills, Instagram, Reality TV, Social Media