Will the Vanity Fair Pictures Kill the Hannah Montana Brand?
  by:  |  Apr 29, 2008

There’s been a huge outcry over the last couple days over the provocative Miley Cyrus photos which are set to appear in Vanity Fair this month.  According to both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, there are real concerns that the Annie Liebowitz shots have done severe damage to Ms. Cyrus and her Hannah Montana brand, as parents may avoid the star and her offerings due to the pictures.   Every brand has a natural lifespan and there is concern that this will damage Ms. Cyrus’ brand and its life expectancy.

Of course, Cyrus and Disney (the company which produces Hannah Montana) have struck back.  A Disney representative is quoted by the Times as saying that “Unfortunately, as the article suggests, a situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines.” Cyrus is also released a statement claiming that she was tricked into taking the photo.

This article on points out the similarities between the Cyrus shoot and a similar photo shoot by Britney Spears:

Britney was in a Miley place,” said Castro. Then she decided to break out, making her persona in “… Baby One More Time” a sexy schoolgirl, and doing a provocative photo shoot for Rolling Stone. “She alienated parents, but gained a whole following of older kids,” says Castro.

With that similarity, there is also the question of whether this is a first step in a Spears-esque flameout.  As the Vanity Fair article notes:

With Lindsay Lohan rehabbed and Britney Spears under psychiatric care, the tabs are looking to Cyrus to flame out, or at least do something mildly outrageous

The article goes on to quip that “every under-age actress in Hollywood is stalked by the Ghost of Britney Future.”   The analogy is clear.   There are people that are looking at this as a first real chink in Cyrus’ armor.

How does this translate to small business?  What it tells us more than anything is when dealing with a company’s brand or a personal brand, every action you take can damage your brand, even if the action is taken with the best intentions.  You need to look at each action you take and judge whether it will effect the overall health of your brand.

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