Secret meetings to kickstart Operation Fix Karl
WE need to talk about Karl.
Is this the start of Operation Karl Stefanovic Damage Control as the once Channel 9 golden boy finds he no longer has the Midas touch?
Leave the family home and divorce the mother of your children for a pretty blonde. Check. Indulge in some action-man holidays on expensive toys-for-the-boys with said blonde. Check. Start dressing trendoid and stop wearing socks. Check.
Cavort on the 'Gram over bubblies at fancy soirees. Checkety, check, check.
But when your brand is all about being the everyday bloke made good, things start to unravel.
Because that's what we loved about Karl. Karl the Lovable Rogue. Karl the Naughty Boy who overindulges from time to time and Karl the Loyal Family Man and Bogan at Heart.
So what's to be done about Karl?
Enter brand marketer Mitch Catlin to take on the task of turning around Brand Karl.
It's a crazy world when someone thinks of themselves as a brand. Oh, the humanity. But that's where we're at. Our biggest stars are brands just like every business.
Think Brand Lisa, Brand KAK or Brand Tracy. As female viewers leave Today in droves, industry insiders say the love has all but gone for Karl in Melbourne and a makeover is crucial.
Melbourne brand consultant Catlin is known for having "made" Jennifer Hawkins and Rebecca Judd at Myer and signing Nicole Kidman for Swisse. Behind the scenes, this smooth operator makes things happen.
So it was little wonder that when Karl finally realised he needed to do something drastic, he brought in Catlin as the fixer.
It's understood Karl was in secret meetings in Melbourne this week to kickstart the reputation reinvention.
Insiders are saying it is his first attempted step on the road to redemption. The Gold Logie winner and highest-paid personality on TV has drawn a line in the shifting sands.
With a Mexico wedding scheduled next month, Karl needs to have his message on point.
Page 13 understands the first thing at hand is to focus on what people once loved about Karl.
Karl the Larrikin. Karl the Newsbreaker. Karl the Family Man. These are the "Karls" everyone adored.
So, it's back to the future with the head honchos at Nine still behind him. CEO Hugh Marks has acknowledged Karl's popularity is on the wane on the back of Today recording some of its worst ratings, especially in Melbourne.
But Nine is backing him in with the golden boy front and centre for the network's first ever telecast of the Australian Open.
"Karl has had a tough year, but I have every confidence that he can get back to what he is really good at and re-establish that connection with the audience," Marks said recently.
"If the audience sees him really working hard and treating them very seriously and delivering on what he can do, well then he can re-establish that connection. He is a fantastic broadcaster."
Last year's midlife narrative will be but a distant memory as the tennis serves up Karl Revisited.
He needs to pull his socks up, but first he needs to start wearing them.