Brangelina – the biggest thing to happen this September?

photo taken from: Photo taken from: Edited by Lucy Hayball 2016

It seemed to be the biggest thing that happened last month. Wherever you looked, there were Tweets, Snapchats, Facebook posts, Gifs and Memes expressing the world’s shock that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had split up.

This all happened when I was thinking of new blog post ideas. So, seeing as I am a PR student I thought it would be a good idea to have a look at the PR aspect of the breakup.

Firstly, the Brangelina breakup seemed to dominate media and social media channels. The stories about world issues such as the Calais refugee camp, the civil war threat in Colombia, the UN security council concerns and more seemed to take a back seat. #Brangelina was the most popular trending topic on Twitter, followed by #JenniferAniston. Brangelina had the world’s attention at their fingertips.

When thinking about the idea of media domination for this ‘power couple’, I found a really interesting article written by the Independent. The article argued that if Brangelina wanted to keep the divorce low profile, they would have filed the application on Friday. To any normal person, the date in which Jolie chose to file her divorce would be totally irrelevant. Until you think more into it and especially from a PR angle. Filing the divorce on Friday would have meant that many of the news outlets would be focused on the Emmy’s happening over the weekend. Therefore, the article argues that Jolie deliberately waited until a Monday to get her position on the divorce out there and achieve as much attention as possible.

This went along with my observations that there was a strong ‘side’ to the breakup. Many people on social media sided with Jolie, sharing tweets of her statement. Then again, Jolie herself has a reputation to uphold. Yes, she’s previously battled with bad reputation but she generally upholds a positive image in the media. She is constantly conveyed as a loving mother to 6 children, 3 of whom she adopted. She’s a United Nations ambassador and humanitarian. So is it any surprise that she filed when she did to make sure that it was her reputation that was upheld?

But what about Brad Pitt? Where has his presence been in the whole situation? He appears in statements here and there but has in no way tried to defend his position. He has instead, sat back and let the media outlets pick parts of his life apart.

This is clearly an ongoing situation which will be interesting to track and see where it goes and whether Pitt can pull it back. Or, whether the PR move from Jolie won the case for her before it had even began.

Often, companies will use news stories as a base for some PR related content. Norwegian Airlines responded to the Brangelina breakup very quickly and printed their new ad. This ad was simplistic and aimed to get one message across. It merely stated: ‘Brad is single. Los Angeles. From/one way incl taxes £169’. The advertisement spread very fast, gaining coverage with many people on social media applauding the airline’s sense of humour to the situation.

Madame Tussords also jumped on the Brangelina bandwagon. Their PR stunt in relation to this was to split up Angelina & Brad’s waxworks so that they were an appropriate distance away from each other. They stated that they were mirroring the power couple’s separation, gaining themselves coverage and social media interaction.

Companies responding to events like this is a good way to encourage and attract conversation from an existing context. It expands the conversation topic and is a good way to spread a brand across social media platforms and media outlets. If these two outlets had responded a day later, it is unlikely that they would have got the same reaction.

To conclude, I think that Angelina was very smart in her PR move. I am not saying she did it deliberately, but it is interesting to think why she filed when she did and the effect that it could have had on her reputation. The issue with social media too is that it can often blow things out of proportion. Given the profile of the breakup and the idea of exclusivity, it could be argued that publics immediately believed what they saw. However, what many people have forgotten is that they too are humans. Could it be a simple break up, made into a PR battle over parenting skills by social media?

Luce xo

(Photo 1 from: Madame Tussords Twitter. Photo 2 from:


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