Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. My latest Personal Brand of the Month goes to…
Not that long ago, I wrote about the fascinating topic of “edgy brands”. This month, I’ve chosen a brand with a refreshing provocative edge, that of writer, actress and performer Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Waller-Bridge has recently come into focus as a major British talent who manages to straddle both the US and the UK. Killing Eve, written by Waller-Bridge (based on the books by Luke Jennings) swooped up a number of BAFTs in 2019 and Fleabag, which she both wrote and starred in, has earned critical and popular acclaim as both a TV comedy and on stage on both Broadway and, soon to come, London.
Even Waller-Bridge’s first foray into theatre was pretty edgy, dividing men and women and deliberately creating a divisive atmosphere through the actor’s vignettes and bottle of wine in The Mob in 2007.
In Fleabag, Waller-Bridge shows grief, adultery, betrayal and promiscuity through the character of Fleabag. All these have been covered by TV before of course, but Fleabag does so with true honesty (and to camera), saying the things that so many of us think but never have the audacity to say. Mental health is an enduring theme of the programme, and often manifests itself as Fleabag’s self-loathing. Where other dramas and comedies offer hope and sugar-coating, Fleabag isn’t afraid to be stark and shocking.
Waller-Bridge has a distinctive outer brand, with her gangly looks, tall stature and distinctive birth-mark, but it’s Waller-Bridge’s style that seems to have made a difference on the high street. The Guardian reports that “After the revelation that the £38 black jumpsuit worn in episode one of series two by the show’s writer and lead, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, was by the London-based label Love, the garment sold out by the end of the day”
We know Fleabag isn’t afraid to disrupt our traditional view of women, but Waller-Bridge’s Killing Eve takes that further, focusing on an M16 agent and a psychopathic assassin who are not only the epitome of strong women but also unafraid at showing their mad, crazy side. What Waller-Bridge has added to the book’s character of Villanelle is an extra dimension of playfulness and child-like curiosity, not to mention a wardrobe to die for!
It’s a talent that has been recognised by Daniel Craig who has asked Waller-Bridge to come on board as a script doctor for the new Bond film, a beautiful example of co-branding if there ever was one:
And he’s not the only one. Waller-bridge has been courted by Star Wars to play an android, yet another great example of co-branding
…and, of course, it also looks like a lot of fun!