Free sex, no strings: The role of twerking in building a brand

Craig Wills
Follow Craig
Miley Cyrus' twerking performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards became the most popular search term on Google
As a client said to me last week [not related to free sex…], “Craig, I need brand sizzle” – baffled and with the scent of a juicy sausage in mind [references to sausage and shameless innuendo will be present throughout this article], ignoring the eternal client desire for brand fame became futile.
Let’s set the scene, the most Googled items of last year were twerking, Harlem shake and Phoenix University. Yes, that’s right, two silly dances and a massacre.
As your head falls into your hands, the reality is that people love bad, shallow, voyeuristic stuff. Heck, our most-read recent articles for this column were about Gary Barlow as a trust figure – a manufactured band member and his trust equity really got you guys interested. I was more a Jason fan myself.
The navel-gazing question arises; are brands just pushing at a closed cerebral door; does anyone care for the worthy, the valuable, the interactive and try before you buy, jump in, “provenance here”, come with us stance that has become the reported holy grail for brands.
Or, should I break free from the confines of using truth and insight to shape and form a brand’s future and instead set up “Sock it to ‘em media” – we make it shallow so punters take it deep…..catchy.
As brands become more and more open source and user informed how can we ensure that we are both useful and relevant to reflect peoples’ complex lives but also cut through in a world where the twerk is king and earned vs. bought media dominates the media ROI scores? By no means a silver bullet but the push back to the client desire for sizzle needs to be focused first at the product or service for whom the sizzle is desired and whether there is genuine relevance, desire, usefulness in what is being served up. Only with that foundation in place can any brand expect to weave a story that has any chance of hitting the proverbial spot.
Innovate or die is bandied around as an apocalyptic threat to brands and business but rightfully so, we can’t look to the window dressing to grow a business. Sizzle comes from the fat in the meat; in other words, it’s inside the brand.
So in my pursuit for more reads, more sizzle and cut through – tell your colleagues, click “like” – Free Sex seemed the right heading, but what I really want is a deep and meaningful, multi-dimensional relationship with anyone and anything, not always, of course there is room for a frivolous knee trembler but only if we can always get back to a place where we know that at the core there is real value and trust.
Craig Wills is the executive strategy director of strategic branding consultancy The Gild,

Related articles