Despite what you may think of the Kardashians as a whole, one thing is undoubtedly true: Stormi Webster is the cutest and most well-mannered child of the brood’s offspring. It’s because of this fact and this fact alone that Stormi’s parents—Kylie Jenner and her ex, rapper Travis Scott—remain my favourite Kardashian couple. And while the pair have been split up since at least September 2019, that hasn’t stopped fans from speculating time and time again that the couple have reunited, looking deep into their Instagram activity for hints of a reconciliation. And Jenner and her former beau are more than happy to lean in to said speculation. On October 18, the Kylie Cosmetics founder took to Instagram as part of a paid campaign for Givenchy’s latest collection, sporting a look from the luxury brand in an at-home photo shoot. Jenner was decked out with several chic accessories and among them was Scott himself. The rapper posed behind his former girlfriend in the photos, leading many to once again speculate about the status of the pair’s relationship. So, are they just co-parenting, or is it something more?
Unfortunately for fans and those who are Kardashian-obsessed, chances are the Jenner and Scott aren’t *actually* back together (a fact pretty much confirmed by blind items on the iconic Instagram account @deuxmoi, who claim Jenner is hooking up with a TikTok star at the moment), but they 100% want you to think that they are. Because Jenner and Scott are an example just one of several types of celebrity PR couples.
Unfamiliar with the term? You shouldn’t be, because it’s likely that some of your favourite celeb couples are in a PR relationship. ICYMI, the PR couple is a celeb couple that’s together not because they’re madly in love, but because their pairing is mutually beneficial to both their brands, both socially *and* financially. In most cases, the PR couple is together for a short stint—just long enough to be photographed together ahead of a big project being released—to stir up enough chatter about one or both of the parties in question. Because it’s all part of promoting said big project. And if there’s one thing fans love more than their favourite celebrity, it’s their favourite celebrity in a relationship, because it offers fans a teensy glimpse into their idol’s personal life, regardless of whether or not said personal life is actually fabricated. The PR couple can take on many variations and can stem from an actual romance (like Jenner and Scott or Beyoncé and Jay-Z) or be faked right off the bat (like YouTube’s Tana Mongeau and Jake Paul). Either way, the goal of the PR couple is to be mutually advantageous to both parties involved.
Here, everything you need to know about the four types of celebrity PR couples—and which of your faves might be part of one.
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The “are-they-aren’t-they” couple
Chances are that if you saw Jenner’s Givenchy spon-con, one of your immediate reactions wasn’t necessarily “Ooh how can I get that bag?” or “Can I also rock see-through, bejewelled skirt in quarantine?” It was probably more like, “OMG, are Kylie and Travis back together?” Because why wouldn’t you wonder that! Here’s a former couple, who are publicly friendly and co-parenting together, posing in a pretty seductive way that would imply *some* sort of intimacy (you don’t just see exes helping each other out casually every day). But that’s exactly the point. Jenner and Scott’s popularity, both separate and apart, relies on the fact that as long as the pair are in each other’s orbit and not confirmed to be dating anyone else, fans will continue to keep guessing on their relationship status.
In a way, they’re much stronger “together” (or at least with the implication of togetherness) than they are apart. And this is for myriad reasons. Celebrity couples who are firmly in the “are-they-aren’t-they” stage aren’t necessarily the subject of constant speculation because people necessarily *like* them together or think they’re couple goals. People can also be fascinated with the “are-they-aren’t-they” aspect of a couple that, when together, brings an element of drama. Just look at Khloé Kardashian and her ex, basketball player Tristan Thompson. Despite Thompson cheating on Kardashian *at least* twice, both fans and haters of Kardashian are watching to see if the pair are back together, because if they are, it won’t not only inevitably bring drama, but will also give people a reason to hate on them—or more specifically, to hate on something.
Which is fine, because as long as they’re talking about your relationship status, they’re talking about you. Often, the “are-they-aren’t-they” couple will do their own attention-baiting, posting low-key couple photos or Instagram Stories where their partner is pictured or heard just out of frame.
Other “are-they-aren’t-they” couples:
Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian and Tristan Thompson, Addison Rae and Blake Griffin, and Fai Khadra and all of the Kardashian-Jenner women
The clandestine affair couple
The second celebrity PR couple type is one that’s similarly titillating to the “are-they-aren’t-they” couple, if for more disastrous reasons. Enter: the clandestine affair couple. Characterized by grainy paparazzi shots and “secret” vacations to foreign countries, the clandestine affair couple is one where one or both parties are seemingly in another relationship. (FYI, this relationship could actually be over, it just hasn’t been announced yet.) Often, the couple is photographed out and about in a far-flung locale where they’ve snuck away seemingly for privacy, yet for some reason choose to do über touristy things where they’ll inevitably be photographed. (See: Lily James and Dominic West, who were photographed canoodling in Rome on October 12. West is married.)
Typically, these kinds of PR pairings feature one high-profile celebrity and one lesser-known, and either leads to the dissolution of the pair’s other relationships, or ends with one of the parties returning to their family, making a show of solidarity with their initial partner (which, in the case of West and his wife means a serial killer note reassuring fans that their marriage is strong on their front gate) and ending up with more notoriety than before.
Other clandestine affair couples:
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders (IYKYK. If you don’t…enjoy at least 30 minutes in a Google rabbit hole.) Sienna Miller and Balthazar Getty.
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The outrageous clout couple
You’ll know the outrageous clout couple when you see them, mostly because it seems so ludicrous that they’d be together in the first place. The clout couple is so transparently together solely for publicity and Instagram followers—and they don’t give a damn who knows it. Take YouTube stars Tana Mongeau and Jake Paul, who, after a whirlwind romance, got “married” in an over-the-top Las Vegas wedding in July 2019 (the pair did not in fact get legally married, and split up shortly afterwards). Of course, everything was sponsored and of course, everything was filmed.
The members of a clout couple is beyond bonkers on their own, so putting them together is overdrive. They’re typically spotted out and about together *everywhere,* but most definitely anywhere that there’s bound to be paparazzi. They’re usually only together for a short period of time and never explicitly confirm their relationship status, only giving sly sidewalk interviews to TMZ about how their dinner mate is “a great girl,” and they’re just “seeing where it goes.”
You can always identify a clout couple if the burning question you have when you see them together is “What the heck do they even talk about?!” Also, one of the partners is often Kardashian-adjacent.
Other clout couples:
Harry Jowsey and Larsa Pippen, Kelly Osbourne and Griffin Johnson, and Tyler Cameron and Anastasia Karanikolaou.
The “ship” couple
The final celebrity PR couple is the most wholesome: the “ship” couple. And no, this doesn’t have anything to do with the high seas. The ship couple refers to a pairing that fans “ship” or want to see together. This can be because they’re both young pop stars who happen to be on the same level of fame at the same time, it can be costars whose on-screen chemistry fans want to see ignited off-screen, or it can be just two famous people whose pairing PR executives think would mutually benefit each other. And often, it’s a combo of all three. In the case of the ship couple, it’s as if fan fiction has come to life (think Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling dating after The Notebook, but fake). The ship couple is—like all PR couples—often spotted together on walks and outdoors, holding hands and being cutesy, with photographers everywhere. Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello is a recent example of the ship couple. They tend to stay together through the promotion of a big project or duet (and promote each other), during which time they’re spotted *everywhere.* Their relationship is punctuated by numerous adorable posts of each other on their personal social media accounts.
Read this next: Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s Quarantine Walks Are Pure Chaos
Other “ship” couples:
Ben Affleck and Ana des Armas.
So, good luck to Jenner and Scott. Whatever happens next with their relationship, guaranteed we’ll be watching.