Twerk Marketing- Lessons from Miley Cyrus’ infamous VMA performance

Everybody’s been talking about teen pop star Miley Cyrus and her controversial act during the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) last August 25. It was so viral that the word “twerking” – a word used to describe her provocative dance – was enlisted as an official word in the Oxford Online Dictionary.

Marc Wayshak, a sales strategist and author of “Game Plan Selling” and “Breaking All Barriers” said in a article that the incident can actually give us a few valuable lessons in marketing. After all, Cyrus did get all the people talking about her, which is what marketing is essentially all about.

“Miley’s stunt worked – and it worked big time”, says Wayshak, in reference to the aftermath of the twerk-filled performance. Cyrus has then been everywhere since – from TV shows, radio waves and blogs, and is a constant topic in social networking sites. “Regardless of your personal feelings about her performance, it’s difficult to argue with the fact that Miley Cyrus pulled off the greatest marketing triumph the entertainment industry has seen in quite a while. And we can all learn from what she’s done.” Wayshak added.

Here are some of the things Wayshak believes we can draw out from Miley’s notorious performance:

  • Strategy – Miley Cyrus released her new single, “Wrecking Ball” on the same night of the VMA. Coincidence? Of course not. It was a move that was strategically planned to gain exposure and boost the sales. What better way to do that than creating a newsworthy scandalous performance?

The result: just days after the show, the song has been purchased and downloaded 90,000 times. The song debuted at No. 13 on Billboard’s Top Digital Songs chart. Mission accomplished.

  •  Distinction – In the past, only a few celebrities managed to make history through their VMA performances, with a list that includes Britney Spears, Madonna and Michael Jackson. After Miley’s performance, she will go down as one of those who made the show reach popularity heights – overwhelming hype created not only for herself but also for MTV. Now, everybody will be looking forward to next year’s show. It is a business’s dream to make that kind of distinction in its industry, and chances like this only pass by once in a blue moon.
  • Target marketing – Majority of the criticisms thrown at Miley came from people above 40 years old. They said it was immoral, inappropriate and they accused Miley of being on drugs. Does Miley care? Of course not. Miley doesn’t intend to sell her album to old people – it’s the young generation that she needs to worry about. And apparently, the teens loved it. Miley knows exactly who her market is, and she designed her performance specifically for them. Brands should do the same – identify their target, and give them undivided focus.
  •  Reinvention – For years now, Miley has been gradually re-shaping her image into a more mature, edgy musician. That campaign culminated during the VMA show, and while everyone else was shocked, for Miley it was the “coming out” party. She meant to make this move. Just like when a company aims to rebrand itself, which entails careful planning. You slowly put the message out there, and then make an explosion to get people talking. It’s all but a natural transition. As Miley herself reacted, “You’re thinking about it more than I thought about it when I did it. I didn’t even think about it ’cause that’s just me!” 

This content originally appeared in Sales and Marketing Blog.