It’s pretty obvious that Darren Star’s portrayal of Emily’s work is meant to be a little unrealistic. After all, Star is famous for a very specific brand of rose-tinted idealism in which characters somehow muddle their way through incredible careers in a big city while simultaneously wearing a new piece of couture every single day. Carrie Bradshaw, anyone? But the idealism of Star aside, would Emily actually be any good at her job in the real world? You know, the world where her self-cut bangs are a little more wonky and her clothes are a little less expensive? I spoke to a few marketing experts to find out how much of this representation of life as a marketer is pure fantasy.
In season three, Emily’s new boyfriend Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) is constantly moaning about how much time Emily spends working. And yet we almost never see her actually sitting at a desk or cracking open a laptop. Which brings us to Emily’s first major failure: her inability to actually plan anything.
“Publicity and marketing requires strategic planning to meet long-term goals for clients, which requires a lot of attention and time at the desk,” says Christina Towle, founder and CEO of BuzzBright PR. Instead of meticulously planning different approaches for different clients based on their unique metrics, Emily seems to, as Towle puts it, “wing it.”
Plus, considering just how much responsibility Emily is given on the show, she spends way too much of her time gallivanting around Paris when she should be‚ you know, getting on with her actual job. Almost every episode sees Emily dashing out of the office for a lengthy lunch date or a midday drink with a friend.
“Emily would have a lot more sit-in office time—working on her emails and the phone to make sure she makes monthly QPIs for clients [achieving media placements in national publications, interviews for clients, and business development],” says Towle. “Days spent at the café, romancing and dreaming would affect her performance in the real world.” But then again, maybe we should cut Emily a little slack. “It is Paris,” she adds, “so perhaps c’est la vie!”
In the latest season, Emily happens to hear the French phrase “un petit luxe” while having lunch with Lucas Bravo’s Gabriel (yes, she’s taking yet another long weekday lunch). It means “a little indulgence,” he tells her. “Or,” she says, her face lighting up, “a little luxury.” The next thing we know, Emily is pitching the phrase as the slogan for a new McDonald’s campaign—no tests, no research, no planning!
In the show, everyone seems pretty happy with the pitch. In the real world, however, this idea would be unlikely to see the light of day. “People already like to elevate McDonalds’s image by calling it the Golden Arches,” Towle says. “That actually attracts more than ‘petit luxe.’ As well, those eating fast food desire ‘big’ rather than ‘little.’”
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