While twerking is a passing phase that will eventually die out, Miley Cyrus has made sure we don’t forget her as easily. Miley has been under serious scrutiny lately for her sexy and borderline trashy appearance at numerous awards ceremonies. While many believe that to have been career suicide, we believe that to have been one of the most powerful branding and marketing moves for a celebrity in 2013.
Most will simply look at that as a marketing stunt geared to gain attention, however, Miley’s unexpected move is so much more than that. It was the perfect opportunity for Hannah Montana to become a woman, rather than a girl, but more importantly, it was her opportunity to attract a different crowd to her music. Think of this as Britney Spears’ release of Slave For You and understand why this was vital for her survival.
From a branding standpoint, Miley is getting too old to appeal to that younger crowd and if looking at the next 5 years, her image needs to change in order for her profits to stay the same. While she may no longer be a favorite of mothers everywhere and the role model they seek for their younger children, she will continue to remain an attraction to younger girls who have grown up with her and are going through a similar phase. While her sexier side may attract a new crowd all together, it also allows her to be taken more seriously as an artist, rather than teen pop star. The branding element that many seem to have missed is that she didn’t just get on stage and get naked in an uncontrolled manner, instead she revealed her sexier and adult side with Robin Thicke, who is already considered a sex idol by his fans. This association alone controlled this ingenious branding move by having something to fall back if the public was not receptive to it. Nonetheless, the move worked and helped brand her in a whole new light which overtime will show if completely accepted by the public or not. In this article, Miley shares her views on how the plot worked wonderfully.
So did the marketing aspect of the stunt work well and did Miley get the exposure she seeked as a new rising sex idol, rather than a teen star?
To understand why her actions became viral nonsense and why people shared the clips millions of times, we must understand this important rule of marketing about viralness. Unexpected is the best word to use to describe why something, regardless that it is a picture or video goes viral. While the action itself may not have been that controversial, the person performing it, the setting in which it was performed and the manner in which it was conducted were all unexpected, making just about everyone have a need to share with the world this particular event they witnessed.
This one video alone has accumulated almost 3 million views and yet we counted over 90 videos of the incident, with more than half of those having 6 figures worth of views under the keywords on Miley Cyrus and VMA Performance. We are sure there are even more videos that we didn’t not come across that resonate similar numbers.
So what are the great branding and marketing lessons that can be learned from Miley Cyrus?
1) Marketing can be used to shift a brand overnight: While it takes years to create a brand and to ensure it attracts the right people, it can take a minute to destroy it and change the direction of its image. While it can be a dangerous thing to do, especially if you don’t have enough fans to support it backfiring on you; it can also push you in a new direction with great traction.
2) Every branding change will make you lose a piece of your audience: Remember that no matter what your brand stands for, it attracts those with a common set of values and beliefs and as a result changing it will result in losing some of those people who were only in it for themselves and instead attracting new crowds. Being prepared to take that loss should be crafted with a plan to convince new minds to follow you.
3) The unexpected goes viral, but only when your brand is strong enough: There are plenty of twerking videos online, but not many by adored teen artists who have built a reputation for being the very poster model child of teenage girls. This unexpected move is from a branded individual, which you would never expect this from, which is why it spread faster than a virus.
4) Controlled associations can minimize backfires: While many understand that they will lose a few fans in order to gain many more, it is always great to have a back up plan to minimize the damage if things get out of hands. The association with someone else who is well known in the genre helps defend your case. In other words, its not like she is always bad right…it was just this one summer says a credible source.
All in all, Miley Cyrus delivered what will be known as the perfect marketing stunt of 2013 and will go down in the record books for the perfect crime. The real question that now remains is if she was the responsible one, or is there a mastermind on her team calling the shots and ensuring her career keeps racking in the big bucks.