Words by Jack Pineapple.
The pop star and former Disney poster girl’s latest single, ‘Wrecking Ball’, smashed the record previously set by One Direction for ‘most plays on Vevo (YouTube music channel) in the first 24 hours after posting’. Cyrus’ video gained a staggering 19.3 million views in its first day compared to the 12.3 million 1D’s ‘Best Song Ever’ had earlier in July. Invalidating their track title among other things. One week and Wrecking Ball was well over 106 million views and rising.
If you’re reading this you’re on the Internet, so I’ll go ahead and assume you’re aware of the current cultural talking point that is Cyrus’ album promotion campaign of orchestrated controversy and part of her larger re-branding exercise. The time after her now infamous VMA performance and video release there was complete media saturation surrounding her. As the views for Wrecking Ball rose, that became another story in itself and a feedback loop of hype began to sustain itself.
The surprising thing with this whole episode is that anyone was actually shocked and spoke about it at such length. Every year at the VMA’s someone does something outrageously planned. Scanning through pretty much any pop video and album campaign and you’ll see the same template being used by Cyrus. Comparing Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ you see the same articles being written, the same parents being outraged and the same kids buying the record because of all this.
Since there have been pop stars, controversy has been used to shift records. There was even a moral panic surrounding Cliff Richard when he first broke onto the scene for his suggestive hip orientated dancing. I can only apologise for the image of Cliff Richards suggestive hip orientated dancing, but he was the Cyrus of his time.
If you buy into using controversy as a marketing strategy or not, you can take away that using tried and tested marketing methods still work just as well as ever. In our fast paced digital world it can seem the game is rapidly changing but really it’s only the platforms of delivery that are evolving. Cyrus’ massive success by just tweaking the standard pop music model can be a lesson to us all.