Are we past the VMAs yet? Can we stop talking about Miley Cyrus? Well, no. Actually, I want to take a swing. Whatever you think of Miley’s bold moves, you have to agree with her: it was a hot mess, but a strategic hot mess – one that yielded impressive digital marketing results. Sure, Miley has been a digital marketing success since Disney first aired Hannah Montana. According to Google Trends, she has been in the top 10 of its Trends Chart for actors for 78 months. (In case you’re wondering about the math, she was 13 1/2 when she entered this list.) But her future success depends on the transition from teen to adult. Perhaps Miley could make a classy transition like a few other entertainers (Justin Timberlake might be a good example), but there’s a good argument for taking the shock route. Look at her competition: Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, and yeah, let’s throw in Taylor Swift.
It’s a tough crowd, and one largely known for shock publicity. To get to the top of the pop heap, she must take serious risks and out shock even Lady Gaga. Let’s reverse engineer the “strategic hot mess” of a marketing plan since late August (the Huffington Post has a full rundown from the start of the year, including videos here. View at your own risk.):
- August 25: VMA Performance
- September 9: Wrecking Ball music video (Warning: There’s a lot of Miley to see here.)
- September 16: Break up with boyfriend Liam Hemsworth
- October 3: Miley: The Movement, MTV Documentary
- October 5: Miley hosts Saturday Night Live
- October 8: Release of studio album, BANGERZ
You can also add in disputes with other singers, such as Sinead O’Connor, and rumors of her possible pregnancy, and debate whether they were orchestrated or just plain good luck for Miley Inc. But this alone looks like a well-thought out marketing and communications plan. There were also serious hooks into social media: music videos and parodies, endless tweeting during and after the VMAs, and tons of digital media coverage.
As a result, it played out in digital in a big way for Miley. Here’s what her search trend looks like:
That big spike comes in August, with the VMAs. Miley has been giving people something to talk about every week since. Yes, she has been interesting and valuable, as it turns out.
According to USA Today, her VMA performance had 10 million viewers and is worth $79 million in free publicity. Her video for Wrecking Ball had 19 million views in just 24 hours. And that’s before album sales.
A hot mess? Yes, but a wildly successful, strategic hot mess.