It’s now been six months since Miley created a storm of controversy at the MTV Awards. While I didn’t see it live, everyone on my Facebook had an opinion of it all day the next day. The only issue is nearly everyone on my Facebook is over 40. Then you watch the news cycle and see all the news stations all day trashing Miley and talking about how inappropriate it was. But everyone on these news stations was also over 40.
The issue is that if you’re over 40, you’re not in the target market.
So then I asked my 15-year-old daughter what she thought of the whole “Miley thing”. She said “she’s just trying to show that she’s a grown up and make a living”.
My daughter is in the target market. And she gets what Miley was trying to do. And she was willing to defend her.
A beloved brand knows who is in their target, and who is not in their target. I hear so many non-beloved brands say “we can’t alienate…” But before you say alienate next time, keep in mind that target and alienate are pretty much synonymous.
Miley is very Strategic
Beloved Brands find a way to separate themselves. With traditional brands, you have to be better, different or cheaper. Or else not around for very long. With music, there’s so much talent out there, so really those who make it are “different”. And Miley has a very good voice but she’s smart enough to know that’s not enough. She gets that: ’Every time I do anything, I want to remember, this is what separates me from everybody else.’
While all the controversy was going on, Miley called the MTV Award performance a “strategic mess”. I know it caused this storm of outrage but that’s not really the first time in music history.
When Elvis first performed on Ed Sullivan, they would not show him below the waist because of his gyrating hips. The Beatles long hair caused a stir, Rolling Stones getting arrested in Toronto, Madonna singing about being a virgin in a wedding dress or kissing Britney Spears on stage. Pick your age and you likely think the one prior to your generation was “kind of silly” and the one after was “completely offensive”.
So let’s look at this strategically.
There are Four Principles of Good Strategy: 1) Focus 2) Early Win 3) Leverage point and 4) Gateway to something bigger.
- FOCUS all your energy to a particular strategic point or purpose. Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort. Focus on one target. Focus on one message. And focus on very few strategies and tactics. Less is more.
- You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further. This proves to everyone the brand can win—momentum, energy, following.
- LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger. Crowds follow crowds.
- See beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger. It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours. Return on Investment or Effort.
Here’s how Miley did in terms of strategy:
- Focus: Miley’s target audience is the Hannah Montana audience, who were 10-15 when she was on that show and are now 15-20. She focused on the biggest teen show, the MTV Awards, well-known for crazy antics and perfectly timed to spur on her album sales, of which the first single had already hit #2. You can do anything on the MTV Awards because only the kids are watching anyway. She knew exactly what she was doing.
- Early Win: In the music industry, it’s fairly obvious that no news is bad news. Miley thought this out and was even quoted as saying “make the talk about it for 2 weeks rather than 2 seconds”. While others did outrageous things that night. Sadly, Miley wasn’t the craziest performance that night. Poor Lady Gaga came up in a g-string and yet, no one talked about her at all. For 48-hours, it was hard to see the win and even I was wondering if she could manage the storm. People were worried she had lost it. But, after the 40 year olds were done complaining about her, the 15 year olds came to her defence on twitter, where none of the 40-year olds could see. In each subsequent interview, she came across as intelligent and….strategic. She did a great job on Saturday Night Live, making fun of herself and even saying “I’m not going to do Hannah Montana, but I can give you an update. She was murdered.” All part of the transformation away from child star into a 20-something singer.
- Leverage: She was able to leverage the energy to get these loyal fans to go buy her music. She kept the controversy going with the launch of the “Wrecking Ball” video where she was buck naked. Within 24 hours, the video was downloaded 19 million times and the song quickly shot to #1.
- Gateway: Everyone knows the music charts are the gateway to the bigger mass audience–more radio play, more iTunes downloads and more talk value. And Bigger concert sales. Miley’s album sales were through the roof and she was named MTV Artist of the Year for 2013. She was also named #1 Sexiest Woman by Maxim Magazine. The re-invention of her new image complete. Oddly enough, Miley finished #3 in the voting for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Odd because there is no more mainstream publication than Time.
Does this seem like an insane person out of control, or someone who knows exactly what she was doing?
Miley is a very smart strategic “grown up”
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