Lady GaGa: The Monster Brand

On this blog, in the past, I’ve written about celebrity branding.  The young crop of pop icons, shining in the public eye, are perfect examples of a pretty solid entrepreneurial business plan, and a whole lot of hustle.
            Over the weekend more than one of us from Chester + Company were lucky enough to be in Toronto attending the Born This Way Ball.  Yes, we were seeing the master of branding herself: Lady GaGa.
            Lady GaGa has taken a genius approach with connecting to her fan base.  Do you feel like a social misfit?  Great!  So does GaGa.  She refers to her fans as ‘little monsters’ and has dubbed herself ‘Mother Monster,’ which gives fans a familial sense of belonging.  Many other stars have followed suit by giving their fans a title.  But, let’s be real, we know where that trend started.  In another genius move by GaGa, she took the familial feeling to the next level and created littlemonster.com, a social media platform for her fans to connect with her and each other.
            Mother Monster has also aligned herself with social causes that compliment her esthetic and her fan base.  She speaks out as a strong force with the Anti-Bullying and LGBT Legislation.  She also founded the Born This Way Foundation in 2011.  Their mission is “to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated.”
In the wake of a fans suicide over bullying, GaGa vowed to go as far to speak to President Obama himself about the issue.  And she made good on the promise while at a fundraiser.
            When it comes to branding, we can learn a lot from Lady GaGa.  Let’s have a little recap:  Well-defined brand?  Check.  Create a feeling of community or sense of belonging?  Check.  Make a clear definition of who your audience is and create a unique user experience.  Check.  Align with a non-profit organization with the same or similar mission.  Check.  The proof is in the pudding.  Paws up, Monsters!

Mother Monster

Well everyone, it’s happened.  We all knew this was coming.  Inevitable.  Kind of like the tides.  Or the seasons.  No, I’m not referring to that silly apocalypse that had people all bent out of shape.  Today we’re talking GaGa.

A fairly run of the mill party girl from New York City, she took the music industry by storm in 2008 with “Just Dance”.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Number one after number one, and outrageous art-to-wear fashion choices, have catapulted GaGa (also known as Stefani Germanotta) to the forefront of both the music and fashion industries.

And that’s not all.  GaGa has singlehandedly conquered the digital world.  Not only with digital downloads (although, you can check off that box too), but the world of social media is putty in her hands.  Lovingly referring to her fans as her “Little Monsters”, she has appointed herself as Mother Monster.  The maternal connotation is strangely fitting.  She tweets to 10,377,254 Little Monsters who religiously follow her on Twitter, making her the most followed user on the micro-blogging giant.

Her musical talent, incredible stage presence and undeniable charisma have clearly given GaGa a nearly countless mass of loyal fans.  Her Little Monsters aren’t okay with downloading pirated copies of her music either.  They are buying it.  People are actually buying music again!  Who knew that was ever going to happen?  The downward spike of music sales seems to be on the rise again.  Industry insiders are saying her new album "Born This Way" could very well save the music industry.  Internet savvy and saving the industry from a full on demise?  GaGa is certainly no shrinking violet.

Everything GaGa touches turns to gold.  Somehow she takes the familiar and makes it intoxicatingly exotic.  Listen to her music and tell me it doesn’t remind you of something.  In 2010 GaGa was named one of Polaroid’s Chief Creative Officers.   The buzz on the internet alone was enough to get the world talking about Polaroid.  After details of their Tokyo meetings were released, and prototypes were unveiled at CES 2011, again GaGa’s Little Monsters are itching for the camera’s release.  A new lease on life for a seemingly forgotten and obsolete company in the digital age.

Apart from the irresistible music and the online domination, GaGa is actually making a difference in the world.  Her philanthropic list is growing almost daily, most notably her collaboration with MAC for their VIVA GLAM campaign.  She speaks out in favour of equal rights around the world, particularly for the gay community.  Her influence is impressive.  She’s an icon to a community where she technically isn’t even a member.  And she’s got a track record that supports her ability to make change.  She’s even listed as one of Forbes 100 Most Powerful Celebrities in the world!

Lady GaGa has managed to gain a physical grasp on the intangible.  Love her or hate her, it’s very obvious that this girl from New York City is 100% not going anywhere.  Put your paws up!

The Grammys: Awards, a Show or Both?

      

Last night was the night all music and pop-culture aficionados have been waiting for.  The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.  With nominations transcending all genres of music, it was sure to be an exciting night and predictions were all over the map!  Had Taylor Swift paved the way for every budding country star?  Would 16-year-old Canadian Justin Bieber prove that not just screaming tweens could give him recognition?  Or perhaps Lady Gaga would reign supreme as the new Queen of Pop.

The show sounded too good to be true.  No seriously, it was literally too good to be true.  The list of performers was endless:  Christina Aguilera, Muse, Arcade Fire, Mick Jagger, Cee-lo, Barbara Streisand.  This show was shaping up to be around, oh, 5 hours.  Clearly this was not actually the case.

The show itself was fairly exciting.  Powerhouse act after act took the stage to wow the television viewers and fans lucky enough to be in the audience.  Something was missing though, where were the Grammys?  Why were nearly no awards being presented to anyone?  When a musical act would take the stage an announcer would state their name and what Grammys they had won or been nominated for that night.

When did this happen?  Isn’t an award show supposed to be dedicated to seeing the recipients actually receive their awards?

Although a spectacular musical production, the Grammys have turned into just that, a production.  At the end of the day it all comes down to ratings.  Would you rather see someone receive an award, or see more performances whether the artists win or lose?  Although we may have missed out on seeing stars gushing over the fruits of their labour we were given the chance to experience more music.  Give a little to get a little, right?  It was quite the show and would have been a shame to miss, but I’m still a little lost as to who actually won anything.