How to Destroy Your Brand – The Miley Cyrus Way

miley cyrus

All over America, arenas are filled with young girls and their mothers engulf in the persona of one Miley Cyrus, Walt Disney’s Hannah Montana. Not only do they attend her concerts, but they also are buying her merchandise to an estimated tune of 1 billion dollars in 2008. These mothers and young girls see Miley as a role model. Someone that portrays the message of a “good girl.”

Thanks to Vanity Fair this has all changed.

Fifteen-year-old Walt Disney superstar and her advisers got this wild idea from some marketing genius to pose topless for Vanity Fair. That being said, she was semi-covered by a satin sheet, but who in their right mind gave her the go ahead for this? She’s 15 years old for God’s sake. The backlash is going to be far and wide.

Mothers who have seen these photos are outraged and are concerned of this new image that Miley is trying to convey. Let’s face it, whether they like it or not, kid stars seldom every get past the personal brand they build as kids. Sorry Ms. Miley Cyrus you will always be known as Hannah Montana and after this last stunt you could be seen more like celebrity trainwreck Britney Spears.

If you want to destroy your brand here are a few tips by Miley Cyrus:

  • Forget who your audience is.
  • Listen to advisers who only have their best interest in mind
  • Think your product (you) is something that it’s not.
  • Get business tips from someone who is still recovering from an “Achy Breaky Heart.”
  • Forget what made you a success and how you got there.

For Ms. Miley Cyrus’s sake she better have a good PR firm to help smooth this one over. If not you can say goodbye to another teen star ruined by a marketing team that doesn’t understand what suburban girls and their mothers are buying into.

  • Webster

    You’re absolutely right she should not take business advice from “someone who is still recovering from an ‘Achy Breaky Heart'”

    After all, she will only be a 15-year old BILLIONAIRE by the end of the year…

    Now if only she got advice from someone else…maybe she would be worth 2 billion instead.

  • Yeah, this is a big mistake.
    I can appreciate that Miley is growing up and can’t be a candy coated child star forever. But, there is no transition here at all. Maybe they think there is more money in the older age bracket. Dunno, that’s not my world of marketing.

  • Not so sure anything can derail Hannah Montana right now. This Vanity Fair posing incident will be a minor speed-bump in her career.

  • Josh

    The Miley Cyrus brand is huge, but it is also changing quickly. Miley is getting older. I think this is a deliberate move by her management team to begin the transition from “good girl teen idol” to “twenty something Hollywood sex symbol”. Lets be realistic, she is getting older and so is the fan base that made her a brand in the first place. As much as everyone loves her, she can’t stay a tween celebrity forever. In order to continue to make herself and everyone around her money for the next 10 years, she needs to move into the next stage of celebrity, which for young women involves becoming sex symbols. It is unfortunate, but that is what our society goes for.

  • No, the fault lies with Disney, not MC. Disney has a history of making stars out of kids and not training them to deal with the fame and fortune that comes with it. My feeling is if you use kids as an asset in your corporation you better damn well make sure that they adjust to their new life.

    Oops, Disney did it again…

    Jim Dorey
    3D Movies & Technology

  • Adam

    I thought that she might get derailed by a coke binge or teenage pregnancy eventually, but a planned brand sabotage? I just don’t get it. If you are trying to transition her good girl image why not wait until she is at least 17??? Great post, Ryan.

  • Dave

    Personally, I don’t think she is anywhere attractive enough to keep this going, she is not a Jessica Alba, and these pictures are only going to ‘burn out’ her mystique at a younger (TOO young and undeveloped yet- this is seriously creepy and gross) age. Maybe she is a talented actress or has other abilities to carry her on but Disney stars are strange personalities anyway that self-destruct when not given sufficient attention and limelight.

    As far as the net pics go – for all these young stars – they are just cries for more attention and limelight.

  • Sarah

    Come on! What a joke this is! Have you seen the photos? She is not topless! Yes, you can see a lot of her back, but that’s about it! Do you really think Myley could now be seen more like no-panty wearing, shaved headed Britney Spears? What a complete prude you are!

  • Ryan – It’s not an issue of being a prude. It’s about being a realist. Miley Cyrus makes her money by being a good girl. Here, she’s trying to become edgy by simulating nudity, and it’s going to harm her brand.

    Will she survive the backlash? Easy. Could it harm the bottom line for the next couple years until she’s adult? Yes.

  • Laura

    Prior to this there was nothing I could have been LESS interested in than the ‘tween star Miley Cyrus. Or any ‘tween star, and their ‘tweeny image, for that matter. But this, well, quite frankly I respect her for this. She’s a human being whose career was solidified years earlier than most and based off her age and image, and who’s, regardless of what magazine she does or doesn’t pose for, now heading towards adulthood which inevitably means no more pre-teen asexuality, no matter how much the puritanical mothers of America wish it weren’t so. Aside from that not-so-small fact, the photo that’s caused the uproar is, to my eyes, fairly innocent and lovely. Even she said, before the public revolted, that it was artistic and tasteful, which I also agree with. The reports of her now regretting the photo shoot is no doubt an attempt by her publicist at damage control. I find this to the be the most unfortunate aspect of the story. She’s fifteen, not five, folks, give her some credit for being ballsy, owning her image, and looking towards her future, no matter how “controversial” her doing so may seem now.

  • I was just writing about this issue this morning. It’s already a firestorm and it’s going to take an awful lot for it to calm down.

  • Tom

    This will NOT hurt her career at all. It would be very short-sighted to think that some angry mothers will bring her down. Who cares about their opinions anyway? Not their rebellious teenagers with their own disposible income! She and her fan base are getting older. Her teenage fan base is obsessed with looking older, sexy, and more mature. Creating sex appeal is how one gains a more adult image in the media. This is a deliberate move to get her to the next step in her career. She can’t be a Disney star forever, and if you want to make it Hollywood, you must have sex appeal. Her fans will love this stunt and as for their mothers’ hating it; that will make them even bigger fans- rebellion and sex appeal are the cornerstones of teenage life. Even her statement of regret is just a part of the act. smart move Miley.

  • David,

    Great posts today! Linking this to your GTA post, I think the Vanity Fair stunt is an attempt to introduce controversy into the MC experience. I have the MC demographic represented at home and they like the newer, non-Hannah tunes. She needs to keep pushing the non-Disney envelope, and there will certainly be mistakes along the way. As several commenters pointed out, the number of big post-Disney successes sustained successes is pretty small. The number of flame-outs is much larger.


  • sofia

    I personally don’t think these photos really exploit her in any way… I know that photos leaked from her and a friends sleep over and those weren’t a big deal either. Miley is younger than me, and i wouldn’t have a problem posing with my back showing… its no big deal… people are blowing it outa proportion, she shouldn’t be saying sorry for it.

  • Perhaps the media and analyst has seen this the wrong way. Miley is growing up and getting older. There is now stopping time and she’s growing up.
    The way I look at this, this is a stealth re-branding exercise. The new target market is the Y generation (and perhaps the Z generation too, whatever the marketers are going to call it). I think the underdog, anti-hero image will sell :)

  • Sean

    The vanity fair controversy was manufactured by Disney to distract from her mySpace photos! Didn’t anyone see those? She’s topless, drunk, and all over some guy!!

  • Cheska

    Yup Vanity Fair is to blame. But we can’t do anything now. Those magazines have been sold all over the country. We can’t do something stupid like ransack people’s houses and search for the damn magazine and say “Hello, good sir, madam. We have to take back your issue of Vanity Fair because this fifteen-year-old girl named Miley Cyrus is topless in this cover right here. See? But don’t worry, we’ll give your money back. “

  • First and foremost i would like to say GO girl ! All these critics trying to bring you down should rather look at the drug abusing stardom around them and not to Miley . She is a very gifted young lady and need to live life to the fullest. Of course this act was not one of the best moves but yet again nothing was revealed. Therefore i say BACKOFF .. jealousy … Thats all i can think off. Keep it up Miley . Matthew J Visser all the way here in Southern Africa !!!

  • miley i big fan

  • Filiz

    Miley i really really like a whole lot i dont care
    what anybody thinks because this is a free country
    and i think your beyond mature i love you so much
    i want elope with you and i would you are defenately
    my type you are no where near ugly i think your extremely
    pretty and cute your pretty cute extremely hot and sexy
    and i also like you as a person and as a celebrity i personally think all celebrities male or female doesn’t
    matter they have a right to be told their being crushed
    on and they will get as much respect as possible and you
    a right to know that i’m a twenty-four year old female who
    really has a major major crush on you and i have ever since
    you came out with hannah montana by the way you have good skills.


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