Thursday, 05 September 2013 04:39

Everything I Need to Know (For Marketing My Business) I Learned From Miley

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family storytelling Miley Cyrus controversy brand imagingYou know that article, “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten?” I feel like the last couple of weeks, and all the talk about Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke have been a crash course for brand marketing; “Everything I need to know (for marketing my business) I learned from Miley.”

I'm amazed at the slough of articles that have spawned as a result of Ms. Cyrus' latest stunt. Showing up in my newsfeed is everything from “How to talk to your daughters about their body” to debates over whether or not teen boys on the beach are immodest if they aren't wearing shirts. I'm sitting in awe, thinking what a fabulous study in brand/marketing all of this is.


Because at the end of the day, is it really about:

  1. MTV airing something trashy?
  2. Whether or not Robin Thicke was complicit?
  3. Whether boys are slaves to their hormones and girls who dress trampy are really tramps?
  4. Is it really about a starlet misbehaving?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, N-O, NO!

Because truthfully:


  1. Is anybody really surprised that MTV aired something trashy on their award show? Who in their right mind was watching an MTV-anything and found themselves surprised by something trashy flashing across the screen?  Go ahead and pretend you were shocked, I'm not going to buy it, it was MTV.
  2. Is Robin Thicke just as much to blame as Miley? I have to admit, before all of this, I knew very little about him. But, I've gathered enough to know, his behavior wasn't out of the norm of what someone would expect from a pop-culture entertainer. Again, feign shock if you must, but the guy performs stuff called, “Blurred Lines” “Sex Therapy” and “When I Get You Alone”. I'm thinking he isn't really the model of morality any of us would hold up for our children. Am I right?
  3. Boys will be boys, girls will be girls – the battle of the sexes rages on. This debate is as old as the stars. When it comes down to it, a parent is doing good to teach personal responsibility, accountability and self-respect to their sons and daughters. Miley didn't light that match, her stunt just threw some gas on it.
  4. Are any of us surprised that a popular entertainer acted skanky on a stage? Really? Because we could run down a list from the last five decades alone and be overwhelmed, but not surprised, by the scandalous behavior our “stars” are so famous for.

So, I really don't think this is why we are upset. I think it has a lot more to do with marketing and branding.

family storytelling Miley Cyrus brand imagingMiley got famous being sweet and seemingly innocent. She made her millions (and millions, and millions) because parents forked over money for backpacks, CD's, lunchboxes, t-shirts, sleeping bags and play microphones splashed with Miley's “Hannah Montana” cherubic face. We bought a brand, an image, something we thought was safe to hold up to our kids and say, “see, like this.” Fast forward a few years and her publicity stunt on the MTV stage is anything BUT something we would “buy” for our kids or feel safe holding up to them and saying, “see, like this.”

We're upset because we feel betrayed. Miley violated the brand that we bought and paid for.

She's only famous because of that brand, and now, she's used it against us. That's why, for the most part we aren't screaming at MTV, Robin Thicke or all the other people that surround, sponsored and supported Miley's behavior on that stage.

Everything I need to know for marketing my business: Be careful with, and loyal to your brand. I don't subscribe to what Miley said the other day in an interview “It's days later and everyone's still talking about me.” As if that's a good thing. Miley, everyone might be talking, but do you hear what they're saying?

The beauty is, our TV's have OFF buttons, our remotes can be programmed with codes, games can be unplugged and computers/phones/iPods, etc. can be tucked away every once in a while. We might be mad and not like what we've seen, we might feel like we have whiplash and the brand has been betrayed – but ultimately, the power is ours, as the customer, to simply walk away.

Remember the Dixie Chicks? Barely? Case in point. They violated their brand with anti-American talk and never really recovered. They paid a price for betraying their country-loving, flag-flying fan base. Will Miley? That is entirely up to us, the consumer.

Your family is your own enterprise. Together the members of your family decide what you stand for, represent, endorse or reject; basically, your own personal family “brand.” So perhaps, WE need to gather our little enterprises and have a board meeting around the table. Review some of those great life lessons we learned in kindergarten, and decide what we want to be part of our own personal brand, and ultimately what we will do, or not to do, to be loyal to it.


Last modified on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 11:24
Carol Rice

I grew up in a home rich with family heritage. My mom loved genealogy and knew how to breathe life into dusty documents and color to faded black and white photos - my mom told me stories.

As a grown woman with five children of my own, I've tried to do the same. For years I did it through scrapbooking. But it didn't take long to realize that it wasn't my artistic skills my children really cared about. They never stopped on a page and said, "Mom, you matched that paper to my shirt - perfectly!" Nope. What they did say as they leaned across my lap, pointing at photos is, "Tell me the story!" "Tell me mom about the day I was born... Tell me mom about the day I cried when everyone sang me happy birthday... Tell me mom about my grandma and her garden..."

Don't worry if you haven't done it forever, just start today. The consistency and cumulative effect of one good question - just sharing one story a day, adds up.

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