Dancing With the Stars Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough - Season 8 Hot Pair

Name Recognition and Marketing - Keys to Celebrity Success

The popular reality TV show, Dancing With the Stars, is set to begin its eighth season on March 9, 2009. The show, which consists of paring up teams each consisting of a professional dancer and a well known entertainment personality and having them compete in dance competitions with each other, has proved to be an ongoing hit.

Like other reality TV shows, an element of tension and suspense is introduced as each couples' dancing is judged each week with the losing couple being dropped at the end of that episode. By the end of the short season only two couples remain with one taking the crown at the end of the show.

In addition to entertainment for the show's large audience and work for the entertainer's and dancers, this very popular show also provides great exposure for the entertainers and dancers - exposure that not only enhances their name recognition with a large viewing audience but improves their marketability in the world of entertainment.

With thousands of cable and satellite TV channels, movies, Internet and DVDs all of which reach or can potentially reach a global audience whose incomes and free time are both increasing, the demand for entertainment is growing at the speed of light.

While this growing demand for entertainment is creating ever expanding opportunities for entertainers and other performers, it is also attracting more and more people into the field from all over the world. Couple this growing demand with advances in technology that literally allows anyone who owns a few dollars worth of technology along with a desire to get at least their proverbial 15 minutes of fame and you have an entertainment industry free for all.

Given this highly competitive environment in which consumers' choices are nearly unlimited, branding becomes mandatory, thereby forcing entertainment professionals to continually expand their personal marketing along with their talent offerings.

Season Eight's Love Angle

Two of this season's hot contestants are 29 year old Country Music star Chuck Wicks and his twenty year old professional dance partner Julianne Hough (pronounced Huff).

In addition to being dance partners, the duo of Wicks and Hough have also been romantically linked since August of 2008, having met and developed a relationship while both were on Brad Paisley's 2008 Summer tour. The relationship continued after Hough left at the end of the summer tour to work on Dancing With the Stars' seventh season.

Unfortunately Hough's DWTS seventh season gig was temporarily interrupted when stomach pains forced her to undergo surgery for both a mild case of appendicitis and a more serious case of endometriosis, whose pain she had silently and secretly endured for five years before deciding to take action to correct it.

The bad news was that the surgery and recovery caused her to miss weeks seven and eight of DWTS. The good news was that the distance in her and Wicks' long distance relationship temporarily shrunk as he rushed to her side and helped nurse her back to health.

Hough has not only been a frequent dancer on the show, having first joined as a company dancer for the show's tour, but is also one of only two professionals (with the other being Cheryl Burke) to have won the season championship twice - the first time with 2006 Olympic Gold Medal Speed Skating Champion Apolo Anton Ohnoi n the Spring 2007 Season 4. She immediately followed this up with her second championship in Fall 2007 Season 5 dancing with the Brazilian car racing champion Helio Castroneves.

While Hough and Seventh Season partner Cody Linley, co-star on TV's Hannah Montana show, failed to take the season 7 championship in the Fall of 2008, the prize ended up returning to her family as her older brother, Derek Hough, who is also a professional dancer and was a competitor in seasons five and sixth of the show, won it with model Brooke Burke as his dancing partner.

An Ambitious Young Performer

Despite being a highly successful world class dancer at age 20, Julianne Hough has made it clear that dancing is merely a rung on the career ladder she has in mind.

Like boyfriend, Chuck Wicks, her goal is to become a country music star. She released her first single, Will You Dance With Me, in May 2007 and, partly as a result of its success, got a contract with Universal Music Group's country music subsidiary Universal Music Nashville.

Her second single, That Song in My Head, was released in March 2008 and was followed in May of 2008 with her first album entitled Julianne Hough. On the November 18 2008 segment of DWTS she sang one the songs from her album, My Hallelujah Song, before the national TV audience as her brother and others danced in the background.

In the fall of 2008 she released a second album, this one a Christmas album.

Some critics have panned her music as being too sugary and pointed out that much of her music success is due more to her leveraging the name she has made for herself with her dancing than her talent.

While the criticism may be true, they are overlooking the fact that she devoted most of her youth, actually most of her life given that she is not yet 21 years old, to working and developing her dance skills, even going so far as to leave her family and home in Utah at age ten to go to London, England where she trained and began performing. She has earned the name she has made for herself and if she wants to leverage that in an attempt to expand into music, more power to her.

Anyone who has listened to Julianne Hough sing knows that she has musical talent and there are many who really like her music. Hough's music is obviously not classic or superstar quality at this time but she is working at and developing it.

True, there are probably many others who have more talent than Julianne Hough and are still supporting themselves waiting on tables in Nashville restaurants as they await the opportunity to be discovered. However, while Julianne Hough's talent may not yet be as developed as theirs, she has name recognition and talent while they just have talent.

As I stated above, branding and marketing are important and Julianne Hough obviously works as hard at marketing herself as she does developing her talent.

With a couple of albums and singles under her belt, Julianne Hough originally planned to leave, or at least take a break, from DWTS following the close of the show's seventh season in the fall of 2008. Her intention was to devote her time to her music and build up that part of her career.

However, when boyfriend Chuck Wicks was invited to be one of the stars appearing on DWTS, she reconsidered and agreed to be his partner. From a purely professional point of view, it couldn't hurt to be seen on TV every week and have her name linked with a recognized star in the industry she is trying to break into. The marketing potential alone would have been enough reason to accept the invitation.

Of course, Julianne would not be the only one benefiting as her dancing expertise could certainly add Chuck Wicks' exposure by helping him to remain on the show longer or even win. While already a music star, he obviously feels that the additional exposure will help his career move forward. One only has to look at the Julianne's Dancing for Dummies ( http://blog.cmt.com/2009-03-06/julianne-hough-offers-dancing-for-dummies/ )video blog to see that Chuck probably needs some help.

However, to the extent press reports can be believed, there is also the love factor at work. All evidence to date suggests that these two are genuinely in love. Just as Chuck Wicks rushed to Julianne Hough's side to give support during her hospitalization, Julianne is showing that she is ready to be there for him during his big TV debut.

The two have also hinted that they may be thinking about collaborating together musically in the future and, if they do they will not be the first couple in show business to work together. Some, like George Burns and Gracie Allen, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Ozzie and Harriet Nelson achieved great success as a team in both their professional lives and marriages. While others, like Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Sonny and Cher and Jesse Palmer and Jessica Bowlin enjoyed some career success as partners but failed at love.

Chuck Wicks - An Established Star Before Age 30

Unlike his girlfriend, Julianne Hough, Chuck Wicks didn't seem to consider a music career until college.

After growing up on his family's potato farm in Delaware, he went to college at Florida Southern College in Orlando where he majored in education and began to develop his singing and song writing talents.

While in college he began appearing as a performer with cover bands (bands that play music written and performed by others, usually the hits or title songs from album covers) in some of the numerous tourist establishments in the Orlando area. He also worked part-time checking IDs at a popular jazz establishment where he got to see and listen to many big name performers.

Deciding while in college that he wanted to get into the country music industry himself, he began traveling to Nashville to learn the business. He quit college in his senior year and moved to Nashville where he supported himself with odd jobs, including a stint parking cars for a valet parking service where he again not only met, but also parked the cars of, many industry greats.

In addition to his music appearances while in college he also spent a great deal of time working on his music and traveling back and forth to Nashville to learn the industry. While music and a way to break into the industry were his focus, he didn't neglect his college work as evidenced by the fact that he was close to graduating when he suddenly got his first big break which caused him to quit college and move to Nashville.

On one of his trips to Nashville while still in college, he dropped off a demo disk that he had made and which caught the interest of an executive at one of the recording companies which ended up offering him a development deal. Quitting college in mid-year, he moved to Nashville only to have the deal fall through. But, the door had been opened for him and he began getting to know and getting help and advice from people in the industry so that, a few years later his real break came and his music career launched.

While he didn't devote the years of his youth to developing his career like his girlfriend Julianne Hough had done, once he had decided upon a career in country music, Chuck Wicks attacked the project with the same determination and energy and has demonstrated the same business savvy as his girlfriend.

In addition to having careers in common, both began preparing for their careers at about the same time and both began to gain fame and stardom in the United States at about the same time as well - the main difference being that Chuck Wicks started later in life making him a decade older than Julianne Hough when their parallel career paths began.

Today Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough are both rising stars and with Julianne's move toward a music career both are currently on the same career trajectory.

Like Jesse Palmer and Jessica Bowlin, each these two young lovers are ambitious and savvy business people who work hard at developing both their talent and the marketing of it. The question is, will they be able to manage their love and happiness as well or will this part of their lives end up being sacrificed as the cost of career advancement?

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