From the subtle to the scandalous, each superstar and their publicity team decide how they want to be perceived in the public eye. And with today’s influx of new, innovative technology that allows us to have access to anyone’s life at our fingertips, celebs are more visible than ever. Here are a few of the most memorable Hollywood publicity moments from the past several years.
Kanye West: the one-man PR show. West seems to precisely control every visible aspect of his and fiancée Kim Kardashian’s lives. From hiring a stylist to replace Kim’s entire closet (no small feat) with clothing that was more to his liking, to voicing his offense over a Jimmy Kimmel parody of one of his interviews, West seems to enjoy running his own show. Although there’s nothing wrong with caring about the way you’re perceived, his extreme methods and lack of a sense of humor are off-putting.
Shia LaBeouf: the reverse psychologist. If you haven’t heard, LaBeouf is sorry for plagiarizing other artists’ works. After showing up to a film premiere in Berlin last week wearing a paper bag that read “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE,” the former Disney Channel and Transformers star opened an interactive art installation in Los Angeles titled “#IAMSORRY” (hashtag and all). Despite tweeting that he is “retiring from public life,” LaBeouf seems to be doing the exact opposite. He wants to get people talking, and what better way to do that than to declare oneself “not famous anymore”?
Justin Bieber: the unsuccessful trainwreck. The Canadian pop singer had several run-ins with the law this past year, and the general public doesn’t seem to want any part of it. His new album and concert movie, which both debuted in December, have both flopped. Those who saw his movie or buy his album were existing fans – his antics haven’t exactly won him any new markets. He may be generating buzz, but Twitter trends don’t sell albums.
Chris Brown: the comeback. In the case of the singer’s 2009 domestic violence charges, Brown had a valuable PR asset, his attorney Mark Geragos. While the rest of the world couldn’t stop talking about the brutal physical harm Brown allegedly inflicted on then-girlfriend Rihanna, Geragos advised Brown to lay low and avoid the public spotlight for a while. When the singer had his day in court, Geragos took it upon himself to remind the courtroom and millions worldwide, about all the good things Brown did and accomplished. The whole strategy reads like a textbook crisis communications tactic, and it worked almost too well: disturbingly enough, Brown continues to make music and sell records, and the domestic violence incident is seemingly brushed under the rug.
Miley Cyrus: the good girl gone bad. Over the past year or so, Cyrus has been a walking definition of the word “rebranding.” If there’s one thing she doesn’t want, it’s to be seen as tween pop idol Hannah Montana anymore. But like it or not, her strategy seems to be working: when she’s not twerking or sticking her tongue out, she’s selling albums.
Beyoncé: the shocker. On Dec. 12, fans around the world were stunned to discover that Queen Bey had released a 14-track “visual album” on iTunes with absolutely no promotion or publicity. She wasn’t alone in her efforts, either – the surprise album features collaborations with other big-name stars like Drake and Frank Ocean, none of whom said a word. The power of Beyoncé is strongly evident here: the album had shattered iTunes records and sold over one million copies in less than a week. Beyoncé’s unprecedented stunt proves that once you make it big, elaborate promotion efforts aren’t always necessary.
Lindsey Zimmerman is a sophomore studying Strategic Communication and specializing in Spanish. You can follow her on Twitter at @lindseyzim716.