Friday, June 26, 2009

Marketers Salute Michael Jackson

Here's a great YouTube Video done by prisoners as a tribute to MJ.

Like everyone else in the world I'm writing about Michael Jackson today - his passing is a loss for all. His music spanned decades and generations - recently my nine year-old daughter heard "I'll be There," and I explained to her that this was Michael Jackson when he was close to her age - that he had a long history with music. She knew who he was but had no idea of his history - to her he was just an MTV star.

Despite all his troubles, Jackson was a brilliant marketer. He put MTV on the map with Thriller which sold hundreds of millions of records and was a staple at every teen party throughout the 1980s. Kids sat and watched the video a 100 times, copied his moves and danced to his songs.

One of the smartest things he ever did, which evidently kept him afloat as he continued to bleed money, was buy the rights to a couple hundred songs by the Beatles. Although the price tag was $47 million plus he knew that the value of that music was priceless. He understood the music business and what would sell.

What made Michael Jackson an amazing marketer was his creativity - his penchant for changing styles, for experimentation, for taking chances and getting them right. Like Madonna who is also of his era and not much older, he made choreography and dance a staple in the music business and brought it to the stage. There would have been no Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Paula Abdul and hundreds of other performers who used dance to enhance their shows without Michael Jackson. Rock and roll was just a band before he upped the ante.

As a dancer, I have always admired his courage and the freshness of his work - it's mastery really - he doesn't just sing and put on a show - he marketed a concept, a feeling, a way of thinking about the world that's crystal clear. More power to him.

Of course, the pedophile accusation was dreadful for his career, but I read that he was about to make a comeback with a series of sold-out shows in London. The Europeans are much more forgiving, particularly when you are found innocent. I do think he was a bit wacko (not an original thought) but beyond that I just don't know. I wasn't there.

Traveling and don't want to stay on too long but that's my thought for the day.

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