Megan Fox is back with a vengeance—filming new projects, taking over talk shows, and posing for paparazzi pictures with her hotshot boyfriend Machine Gun Kelly. It doesn't come as a surprise, then, to learn that she's found a new way to capitalize off of her renewed A–list status.
Fox seems to have struck up a new friendship with Kourtney Kardashian over the past few weeks, and the duo is going viral. The pair went Instagram–official on Sept. 13, posting pictures from a behind–the–scenes photoshoot in the bathroom at the MTV Video Music Awards—where Kelly and Travis Barker, Kardashian’s boyfriend, were performing together.
“Kourtney and I are in love,” wrote Fox on the photo of the two women smiling at each other through urinal stalls. The post garnered over 4.5 million likes.
A week later came their ultimate power play.
On Sept. 22, Fox and Kardashian were revealed to be the faces of the Skims Cotton Collection. As part of the brand’s newest release, the company posted photos of the two modeling the new lingerie and loungewear line.
In one, Fox and Kardashian are sharing an apple “Lady and the Tramp” style. Another shows the two sporting Skims’ famous rib underwear, cuddled up and glowering at the camera.
The stars’ fans have gone wild on social media over their Skims campaign. One Twitter user posting about the photoshoot described the pair’s friendship as having “bad girl bestie energy.” Another called Fox and Kardashian “the duo I never knew I needed.”
The collection has done well so far, with numerous items already in low stock or sold out. Part of the launch’s success comes from the publicity generated by Fox and Kardashian, who no doubt are profiting tremendously from sales.
In a matter of days, the duo managed to capitalize off of their new friendship, marketing themselves as a commodity useful in selling products. Unless they planned a brand collaboration and booked a photoshoot in less than a week, Fox and Kardashian’s relationship probably began long before their audience was privy to it on Instagram.
The timeline of their friendship’s public debut and their subsequent Skims launch begs the question: Are Fox and Kardashian actually friends, or is this all a typical Hollywood PR stunt?
The only thing tying the two together seems to be their rockstar boyfriends, who share a similar aesthetic and often collaborate on music. Fans were thrilled to see the couples on double dates and watch Fox and Kardashian introduce Kelly and Barker at the VMAs.
No one seems to be under the impression that Fox and Kelly, or Kardashian and Barker, are in relationships for publicity purposes—the pairings are simply too random for anyone to concoct them. Fox and Kardashian, on the other hand, have a friendship so marketable that even their fans would have a hard time believing they came together naturally.
As an audience, we can’t look away from celebrity friendships. It humanizes our idols and makes them feel more attainable—like maybe we could be friends with them, too. That is the genius of Fox and Kardashian’s perhaps calculated, definitely entertaining friendship: By inviting us into their photos, their double dates, and their rumored hangouts, their relationship itself becomes more sellable than the products they are advertising.
The marketing of a celebrity relationship is not unique to Fox and Kardashian—in fact, this phenomenon has been on the rise in recent years.
Take Pete Davidson and John Mulaney—a pairing that no one expected but fans quickly grew to love. After the SNL star and comedian started appearing together, people couldn’t get enough of the friendship. Their talk show appearances racked up millions of views, they were profiled together for publicity, and they even went on tour as a duo. Davidson and Mulaney, both famous in their own rights, became even more successful by capitalizing on their friendship, selling themselves as a pair.
When interacting with celebrity duos, we feel included—like we're part of the fun right alongside them. We're not just third parties in their relationships, but active participants. They wouldn't be successful without us supporting them, and, in turn, whatever products they're selling—be it tickets, YouTube views, magazine covers, or clothing collections.
We might enjoy these friendships—but we don't have to buy into them.