Miley Ray Cyrus is the new face of Marc Jacobs International. The girl (I know she's 21, but she's just not a lady) who was the talk of the town not too long ago for her "twerking performance" at the MTV Video Music Awards, followed up by her "naked on a wrecking ball" video is representing a major fashion label. Not just any label; Marc Jacobs. I'm confused as a consumer, conflicted as a business owner, and disheartened as a woman; but maybe I'm just a prude?
It's important to say; I never really liked or disliked Miley Ray Cyrus before the VMA incident. I've never seen an episode of Hannah Montana, and had never heard one of her songs. On the other hand, I've always been a fan of Marc Jobs work at Louis Vuitton, and particularly fond of his Marc by Marc Jacobs line. My issue with Miley Ray Cyrus as an ambassador for Marc Jacobs is this; how can a brand associate themselves with a troubled young woman that is exploiting her sexuality to sell a few albums? (Whether she is choosing this path on her own or being poorly guided is a conversation for another day.) Marc Jacobs is elevating Miley to icon status -- are they applauding her for her recent behaviour? Shouldn't we be rejecting her pornographic promotional tactics and encouraging this girl to promote her talent; to use her voice (which is pretty good) and not nudity for marketing purposes?
Surprisingly, after doing a quick post on my Facebook page and surveying other online forums it seems I might be in the minority with my viewpoint here. There are a lot of valid arguments out there for this move; great PR for Miley and Marc, marketing strategy for Marc Jacobs International, and, support with rebranding the Marc Jacobs empire post LV. All valid points, but I'm still not sold. Was there not one other quirky, controversial, and kind of wild starlet that Marc Jacobs could have roped in for his campaign. But I guess the bigger question is; why would he pass up Miley? She's in the news, she's creating controversy (and as a result PR), and she's not scared to make a bold move. Where does the cycle end though; Madonna scandalized a generation too, and Miley stepped it up a notch. What is the next up and coming starlet going to do with the hopes of outdoing Miley and landing a bigger modeling/singing/acting gig. I've never been a fan of J Lo, but these days even she is endearing to me because she worked her way up with some class, and kept a lot of her clothes on.
To bring this conversation full circle; is it just me that feels this way? After all I am 12 years older than Miley and, from a whole other generation -- maybe I am a prude. Some people might think that I'm over reacting because I have a 6 year old daughter. Nope, I'm not worried about that, we've already talked about Miley and the Wrecking Ball video. What I'm worried about are all the girls that are 13 and 14, desperate for love and attention, chasing after Hollywood dreams, looking for an easy way up, and sadly looking at Miley. If I was in the 8th grade, my mind might interpret the Miley Cyrus story like this; it's not cool to be Hannah Montana, you have to grow up and be sexy, the best way to get noticed is bold inappropriate sexual behaviour (for bonus points post raunchy pictures on the internet), and don't worry about the embarrassing after effects, because in 6-8 months you might be modeling for a major fashion house.
So kudos to Marc Jacob's business brain and virtual high fives to my peers in the PR and marketing industry who helped maneuver this collaboration; as a business move, it's pure gold. I know it's not your business to worry about the millions of girls in 8th grade that are watching this unfold, but as a consumer and a woman, I have no respect for this. You're probably not banking on getting rich off of 33 year old moms with two kids this year, but you did lose one customer, loyalist, and fan.
Follow Raj Thandhi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pinkchai