Wednesday, January 4

Madonna Truth or Dare

Today's post is in follow up to yesterday's post about my personal "Brand of the Season," Lady Gaga.

Another full disclosure, I've been a fan of Madonna since "Everybody."  She's been a staple in my music collection, on my Walkman, in my mix tapes, and now on my iPod.  I'm not a rabid fan like many, but I've always enjoyed her music.  Holiday.

But I have found it rather irritating lately that every thing that Lady Gaga does gets compared to Madonna, with the implication that she is simply a copy cat.  And while it is easy to make the comparison, when done exclusively it's very shallow.  Lady Gaga herself notes that she finds inspiration in those that have come before her including Madonna, David Bowie, Queen, Donna Summer, Elton John, etc.  There are traces of all these great artists in the work of Lady Gaga.

Equally irritating, though, are all the comments about Madonna's new line called Truth or Dare and her new music coming out soon.  Many are saying that it's "too little too late" and that it's a desperate attempt to stay relevant.

Of course it is ... but who cares?  Truth or Dare probably should have come out with Truth or Dare the movie and concert tour.  Maybe she wasn't ready. She doesn't have to be first with everything.  No brand does.

What I do know is that Truth or Dare is a new line of clothing, accessories, and a fragrance targeting older women that follows the very successful launch of Material Girl, the fashion line headed by Madonna's daughter that targets younger women.  And it is very true to her "brand", whether it could have come out sooner or not.  And it's targeting older women, those who are likely to still be in her fan base.

One thing can be said ... Madonna has always been a great marketer.  Truth or Dare is carefully timed, or so it seems, with the launch of Madonna's new music and her appearance in the SuperBowl halftime show.  Clearly the ole' girl still knows how to market herself, she is in fact one of the best musical marketers we've ever seen.  Is she the first to do a celebrity fragrance or to dabble in fashion.  No.  Does that mean that she is copying Lady Gaga or anyone else?  No, although just like Lady Gaga I am sure she is aware of what's happening in the marketplace and is taking inspiration from it.

It does feel a little late in the game for this brand, but why not let her take a shot.  And it may be too late for anyone to care.  But it does take the emphasis off solely her music, which isn't a bad thing to diversify.  I will tell you one thing, though.  Madonna is no where near as good of a brand when it comes to social media.  Lady Gaga has that sewn up!

Is Madonna getting older?  Yes.  Is she still trying to be relevant in a youth-obsessed industry and culture?  Yes.  Is she still true to her provocative brand?  Yes.  Is is being desperate?  I guess that depends on if you are a fan.

Inspired or tired?  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect
Professor at NYU

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