| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES When Barbara Ann Bregoli appeared on CBS’s “Dr. Phil” show in December to get advice about how to control her car-stealing teenage daughter, nobody could have predicted she would be giving birth to a villainous viral star.
In just a few months, daughter Danielle, now 14, has garnered 8.8 million Instagram followers. She has racked up brand sponsorships and become regular fodder for the tabloids with provocative poses and viral videos, despite her self-confessed penchant for stealing cars and using foul language in an accent she said she picked up “from the streets.”
She even has a catchphrase, “Cash me ousside, how bow dah?” (Catch me outside, how about that?) that she regularly includes in social media posts after she challenged the audience to fight her while on Dr. Phil’s show.
Danielle Bregoli’s infamy, including her catchphrase, has drawn endorsements from brands that experts say are likely paying her thousands of dollars to post about their products, a personal line of emojis and a deal for a reality TV show.
A representative for Bregoli declined requests for an interview. Attempts to reach her mother by phone were unsuccessful.
“Danielle is the first of her kind in that she rode this singular TV experience and the catchphrase and profiles and memes that ensued have built a revenue-generating business,” said Jonathan Davids, chief executive officer at influencer marketing platform Influicity.
Yet, viral stars who become magnets for brands looking to quickly increase eyeballs may find that it is hard to find financial longevity in being a villain on social media, said Davids and other experts.
So far, Bregoli’s fan base has only grown after a slew of misdeeds, including an undated home video of Bregoli and her mother in a physical altercation, which started circulating last month and has now caught the attention of her hometown police in Boynton Beach, Florida.
Bregoli has endorsed products such as clothing company FashionNova, teeth grills and weightloss drink FitTea. Brands could be paying her up to $50,000, said Rishabh Sharma, CEO of Poletus, which provides marketing tools to brands and influencers.
Los Angeles-based clothing brand PizzaSlime, helmed by creative directors Nick Santiago and Matthew Hwang, partnered with Bregoli to create a line of merchandise that featured her catchphrase.
“We just thought she was funny,” Hwang said of Bregoli.
Most of PizzaSlime’s nine Bregoli items, including t-shirts, blankets and totes bearing her face, are sold out online. Hwang said it was unlikely they would work with Bregoli again.
“We like to work with interesting ideas and people, and once we work together, we move onto the next thing,” he said.
THE LONGEVITY OF CONTROVERSY
Bregoli is not the only star to cash in on being a rebel but if she hopes to achieve long-term social media success, she has to evolve beyond the controversy, said Sharma.
Corinne Olympios, 24, a contestant who divided opinion on the recent season of ABC reality show “The Bachelor” for tactics that included going topless, walked away from the show with more than 720,000 Instagram fans.
The Miami native is moving on from “The Bachelor” with a clothing line launched this month and plans to write a book, create a beauty line and star in her own reality show.
“I’m just trying to really build my brand right now,” she told Reuters.
For Bregoli to outpace her 15 minutes of viral fame, she would have to embark on a coming-of-age journey and perhaps transition from a rebel without a cause to a rebel with a cause, Sharma said.
One such cause could be to speak out against cyber bullying, Sharma said. Last month, Bregoli posted an image of the barrage of negative comments and insults she received on Instagram, captioning it, “Everyone want to point the finger at me.”
“Danielle can still retain the rebel side, but instead of rebelling against her mother, she can rebel against some of the social injustice being done,” Sharma said.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)