Flash mob

August 29, 2012 12:11 pm

Online and social media content shows the world is wild about Harry

Are Prince Harry’s Vegas shenanigans an inadvertent content marketing masterstroke?

You’ve got to feel a degree of sympathy for Prince Harry. Sure, he’s been born into a world of incredible privilege and wealth, but he’s been born into it at a time when every move he makes is being documented, analysed and commented on. In other words, he has become content fodder, not merely for the newspapers and magazines that caused his mother so much grief (and, some would say, ultimately killed her), but for anyone with access to a computer or Smartphone.

While still at school, his teenage dalliance with marijuana was splashed all over the front pages of the tabloids, earning him the (admittedly funny) moniker ‘Harry Pothead’.

Fast forward a decade or so and the 27-year-old prince has become a cause célèbre of the content world due the kind of trip to Las Vegas lots of 27-year-old men like to take with a few mates. As a result of a game of ‘strip billiards’ photos of the naked royal – the third in line to the English (and Australian) throne – have gone viral.

It is an incident that raises some interesting questions about the changing nature of content and, particularly, content syndication.

Privacy in the online content world

Thousands of Britons have taken to social media to show their support for Prince Harry

As soon as the photos came to light, Buckingham Palace requested – nay, demanded – that all newspapers respected the young man’s right to privacy and not publish the revealing pics. In the UK, all except The Sun (predictably) have complied. But, of course, the Palace is powerless to prevent everyday content creators who aren’t governed by a code of conduct from spreading said shots via social media.

Harry and his elder brother William are known to have a deep loathing of the paparazzi – blaming the photographers who hounded their mother for her untimely death. Yet now, due to technological advances and the rise of Smartphones, everybody is a potential paparazzo – as Harry has just discovered.

Of course, you could argue that he should choose his party companions more wisely or even behave in a manner more befitting his title. On the other hand, you could justifiably argue that everybody deserves the right to privacy and that anybody should be allowed to let their hair down without worrying about someone publishing photos of them doing it.

Clearly, the latter point is the prevailing one in the UK at the minute, with thousands of Britons demonstrating their support of the beleaguered prince by joining a Facebook group showing themselves performing Harry’s now infamous ‘naked salute’. Soldiers (and Harry himself is an Afghanistan veteran) feature prominently in the tribute.

As a result of the furore, the Facebook account of one Spike Wells has now been deleted, prompting speculation that the mysterious Mr Wells was in fact a pseudonym for Harry himself.

On the one hand, it’s a little sad that access to Facebook – something most of Harry’s Gen Y contemporaries believe is both their inalienable right and an essential part of life – has proved impossible because of who he is. On the other, this event is an unintended content marketing masterstroke, depicting Harry as a real man of the people and proving an ongoing connection between the royal family and their subjects.

  • What’s your take on the Prince Harry photo scandal? A big fuss over nothing? Proof that the royals are over-privileged time- and money-waster? Or proof that they are just like the rest of us – and a good thing too?


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