Whitney, Re-Launched

>> Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My friends know that I love my Divas. Donna, Mariah, Beyonce. To the left, to the left, everything you own in the box to the left.

And of course, Whitney.

Ah, Whitney. Whether you love her or not, you have to appreciate what she has been through as a human being. The high high and the low lows (literally). And you have to acknowledge her incredible success, even if you're not a fan. 140 million albums sold and the most decorated female singer of all time.

One of the things that I admire about Whitney, aside from her soulful voice, is the way that she has been marketed. Right from her first launch.

Flash back circa 1986ish. Suddenly we hear this powerful voice on the radio and us fans of pop music literally can't believe our ears. A little princess with royal roots and a voice that could only be described as magical.

Hit song after hit song, the next one even better than the last. A breakthrough music video with just the right dress, How Will I Know, and a cameo of Aretha. An album that becomes not only the second largest selling album from a female artist (second only to Carol King's Tapestry), but also the largest selling debut album from anyone.

Perfectly packaged to sell, and boy did she sell.

As we get to know Whitney, we start to see the musical connections and the marketing machine behind the launch. Daughter of legendary gospel singer, Cissy Houston. Niece of another Diva, Dionne Warwick. Close close friend of a living legend, Aretha Franklin. Backed by music mogul, Clive Davis.

An entire infrastructure put into place to make this girl famous.

When Whitney's second album came out, there was a collective sigh of relief. It wasn't just a fluke! This girl really can sing! We were in Whitney heaven, and so was the record company.

I was living in Boston at the time, and when she came to town to do a concert, she was sighted all over the city doing charity work at the public schools. Brilliant, what can this girl do wrong?

Enter The Bodyguard. Just when maybe we might might might be getting bored, Whitney throws herself onto the big screen with great fanfare and a tremendously successful movie soundtrack. Biggest one since Saturday Night Fever.

I saw some clips last night from Whitney's interview this week with Oprah. Evidently The Bodyguard was a turning point in her marriage and subsequently a downturn in her career. Everything started unravelling at that moment. Did you see her husband's reality tv show? Grimace.

But now we have her back. Whitney, Re-launched. The voice is still there, yes a little more mature and perhaps a little worn, but it's still there. And the marketing machine has kicked in again. Clive Davis is engineering his little princess back into the spotlight and we are loving it.

Big time intimate interview with Oprah. Inspirational song, I Didn't Know My Own Strength, perfect for the moment.

Celebrity-filled album release event at the Time Warner Center. Free concert in Central Park. Appearances on MTV. Hit single written by Alicia Keyes, in tribute to her inspiration as an artist.

The result? Album debuts at number one, and a huge collection of fans have their Diva back.

I love marketing.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


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