Miley Cyrus, Controversy, and Your Fans’ True Colors

photo by Suri Henderson
photo by Suri Henderson

Ok, so I’ll try to resist rolling my eyes while I write about Miley Cyrus. I didn’t even watch the VMAs (not really my scene), but the explosion on social media sites meant I just had to see what all the fuss was about…

Now, first a word of congratulations, I suppose, to the whole Miley Cyrus camp – the team of people working on her look and her promotions and all of that…

If the plan was to stir up some attention, it certainly worked… and if that isn’t marketing success, I don’t know what is. Here I am, throwing my hat in the ring with all of the other articles, tweets, Facebook posts, etc.  – all mentioning the young star’s name.

I’d say, based on that alone, her performance the other night was a resounding success…

Not too long ago, I wrote an article about the power of controversy to get people talking… how bold moves may alienate some, but draw real fans even closer… and no matter what their opinion, they talk…

Well… Miley’s performance couldn’t provide a better example of what I’m talking about.

Have you seen the amount of coverage this is getting?

Some people are up in arms, some people are defending her tooth and nail, and all the while, her name stays a part of the conversation. If you didn’t know who she was before, you certainly do now.

And really, this isn’t so different than what we’ve seen in the past, both from pop stars AND from MTV awards shows.

Remember Lady Gaga, the fake blood, and all the controversy from 2009?

What about Madonna’s wedding gowned performance of “Like A Virgin” from 1984?

Or when Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Madonna paid homage to that very same performance in 2003?

The point is… the VMAs are no stranger to controversy, especially when it comes to racy performances by young female stars. I’d be willing to bet that Miley and her team knew exactly what they were getting into – simultaneously reinventing her image and making her the “talk of the town.”

You see, even when it divides, even when it causes fallout, controversy can be a good thing.

Especially if you can stand behind it – own it, even – you can absolutely strengthen your relationships with the people who support you.

Similarly rebellious moves didn’t hurt the careers of Madonna or Britney – in fact, in many ways they helped bump them up to the next level of super stardom. A risqué performance may alienate some fans, but the ones who stick around will be more loyal than ever.

The takeaway, for those of us who don’t go gallivanting around the stage in our underwear, is this: it’s ok to make a splash – you want to make a splash. Otherwise you just end up in the rank and file…

And that goes largely ignored.

Be bold. Do the unexpected. And when the people start to talk, stick to your guns…

You’ll find out fast who your real fans are.

In your corner,

Charlie

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