I’d like to talk about Kylie’s bum. It’s been a few years since it exploded onto the scene in 2000. But that was a good 13 years into her career. So where had it been all that time?
She’d always had it – I’ve seen the pictures – it’s definitely there in her mechanic’s boiler suit in Neighbours.
But it wasn’t until the video for Spinning Around that it was put in a pair of gold shorts (bought second hand for 50p apparently) that it became a ‘thing’. Why then?
Let’s think back.
By the early 90s Kylie’s star was waning. She was desperate to be seen as a serious artist and had started slagging Stock Aitken and Waterman for treating her like a pop puppet. She embarked on a mature (ie boring) phase (blame Michael Hutchence) and her fourth album Let’s Get to it (me neither) failed to reach the top 10.
She needed a come back.
Seemingly ok again with the pop idea Kylie wanted some hits and got her paws on a tune that Paula Abdul didn’t want.
Next it was time for the new image.
I imagine Kylie’s brand people looked again at their product and explored the merchandise for a way to resell it. They homed in on the arse, applied the hot pants and bingo! Kylie got her first number 1 single in 10 years.
What have you got in your arsenal that you’ve so far neglected, taken for granted, thought nothing of, that you could really shout about?
You may not have Kylie’s bum. But I bet you’ve got your own equivalent. Something that may not have been relevant or interesting when you first started, but perhaps the fact that you’ve never changed it is the thing you should be telling people.
Perhaps you have a cracking bank of client testimonials you could repackage? Perhaps your competitors have disappeared or changed course and you’re now the only people doing what you do?
Or perhaps there’s something in the news that means your message is suddenly more relevant? Or perhaps you’ve started sponsoring the local rugby club but haven’t told anyone about it?
In 1987 there was enough that was new and interesting about Kylie (to her pre-teen market) that the bum wasn’t needed. Actually, it wouldn’t have fitted her brand then so it kept itself to itself. But by 2000 Kylie was ready to drop the try-hard indie image and trade it all in for sexy.
We take butts for granted now – there isn’t a day goes by when we’re not visually assaulted by some C-lister’s flashy rump in the media – but it wasn’t really until 2000 that they started to become a cultural obsession.
JLo released her first album in 1999, and her bottom along with it, and bums have been big ever since.
You can see this everywhere – from advertising – in the Shakin’ that Ass Renault Megane ad in 2003, and the more recent Moneysupermarket.com ad with the dancing man in heels and skintight shorts (1,513 complaints so far). To buildings, transport, packaging, furniture, credit cards, phones and so on.
Kylie cashed in just at the right time – before we became jaded by all these jacksies – the Beyonces, Pippa Middletons and Kim Kardashians. So she had more impact.
So maximising your message is as much about timing (or ‘capturing the zeitgeist’) as anything else. If what you’ve got is also what people are talking about, or has suddenly become popular, then join in.
Go where the people are, talk about what they’re talking about and add your own spin to it.
It has to be authentic though. Don’t just start promoting your caramel chocolate cake because it’s the Bake Off final (I’m looking at you, Cadbury). Do it subtly to ensure it rings true. It’s not just the product you’re pushing, but who you are and why you’re doing it.
The key to doing all this successfully is confidence. Confidence in your message, your values and your brand.
Having a solid sense of who you are, what you stand for, and how you present yourself will make what you say and when you say it unshakable. If you don’t have a carefully thought-out mission statement and guidelines then you risk coming off course.
Don’t arse it up. Do all this hard work up front and the rest will flow.
Talk to me if you’d like some help.