Footnote: some guy named Obama was the cover photo of the 11th edition.
This isn't about tastes in music or whether Mr. Obama is a successful president. It's about our attitudes toward celebrity, and how we eagerly accept entertainers as exemplars of brilliance. I don't follow Lady Gaga or her music, but I do see how she's adept at leveraging opportunity when it comes her way. Examples:
- Polaroid -- today a foonote in photography -- made a splash in 2010 when it named Lady Gaga its "creative director." Digital cameras were wildly popular then, and manufacturers churned them out in semi-bedazzling colors. Polaroid's marketing move cued plenty of headlines. However, Polaroid's brand image never rose above the "Big Lots" discount electronics category.
- Next month, you can buy Lady Gaga's CD of duets with legendary crooner Tony Bennett. Tony doesn't need the money or a singing partner. Gaga, on the other hand, basks in Tony's music halo, perhaps extending her brand to a demographic that knows her best for buying dresses in the meat department at PathMark.
On the other hand, you wouldn't go to her for PR advice if you were, say, a singer named Justin on a never-ending bender. So while she profits from a good instinct for notoriety, I'm reluctant to crown her a master of PR.
STILL, it says something when you bump a sitting president off the cover of a PR textbook. He, too, has a similar strategy team -- apparently with less smarts than Gaga's.