The Marketing of Mimi

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Back in August, we reported in “Culture Clips” that Mariah Carey’s new album would feature a 34-page advertorial insert co-sponsored by Elle magazine. Well, we’ve now reviewed Mariah’s latest (check it out here) and had a chance to look at the enhanced liner notes included with the album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel.

Actually, mini-magazine is more like it. Mariah’s partnership with Elle takes product placement to a whole new level.

mariah.JPGThe CD booklet is designed like a miniature version of Elle magazine, complete with cover blurbs, ad pages and departments blending the mag’s regular features with all things Mariah. A music section offers thumbnail descriptions of all her albums. On the fashion front, we learn about the styles Mariah favors, from boots to dresses to coats to shoes. Want to mimic Mimi’s face? A spread on Mariah’s makeup and perfume choices makes it possible. A movie page lists the singer’s all-time favorite films and advertises her upcoming role in the film Precious. And then we get several pages of interviews and sound bites about Mariah’s marriage to actor/singer Nick Cannon.

All in all, it’s a tour de force mash-up of music and marketing, with Mariah as the star of her own private version of Elle magazine.

Personally, I react to this in two different ways. On one hand, it’s hardly subtle. This isn’t subliminal messaging, like a movie character using a certain computer with a large glowing fruit on the front, or the judges on American Idol conspicuously consuming a certain soft drink.

On the other, the blending of these media (music with a magazine … and plenty of products) amplifies two problematic trends in our culture, namely rampant consumerism and our fascination with celebrities. Want to look and smell like Mariah? Or watch her favorite movie? Or vacation where she supposedly does (the Bahamas, Aspen, Italy and Disney World)? This little booklet isn’t shy about telling you how you can imitate her supposedly charmed life.

Do you find such blatant product placement annoying? Or is it not that big a deal? One thing’s for sure: I think we can expect ever-more elaborate advertising partnerships between pop culture’s superstars with the brands they (supposedly) love … all designed to entice you to part with your hard-earned bucks.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

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