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Lady Gaga's Corporate Partners Are Riding Her Wave Right Into The Ground

Gaga's homage to Bowie's Alladin Sane
Lady Gaga certainly believes in striking everywhere while the iron is hot. The marketing assault for her new collection Born This Way has so many corporations behind it that some -- Amazon (AMZN) and Best Buy (BBY) -- are competitors. Unfortunately, she's spreading herself so thin that she'll end up hurting her brand and the companies that have jumped aboard her fabulous bandwagon.
  • Google (GOOG) has made her the face of Chrome and is reportedly in talks to have her do the same for the forthcoming Chrome Book.
  • Starbucks (SBUX) isn't usually a home for heavy club beats, but everything changes for Lady G. The coffee-lifestyle purveyor is selling the album and running a "digital scavenger hunt" for Gaga-inspired goods.
  • Zynga has figured out a way to make Farmville even more annoying with GaGaVille, where fans can get exclusive tracks as well as Gaga virtual items to use in Zynga's games.
  • Gilt Groupe, an online fashion outlet, is offering officially Gaga-inspired clothing as well as VIP performances.
  • Amazon tried selling the new collection for 99 cents for a day and it crashed the system. You may have read something about it. The company is set to try again.
  • Best Buy is giving away the album to anyone who purchases a mobile phone with a contract. If you don't want to spend that much, go to GaGaVille where you can get the album for free if you buy a $25 gift card.
And those are just the deals specific to this album. She also has deals with Coty, Estee Lauder (EL), Polaroid and a costume maker (a truly natural fit).

Those last two partners should worry for future Gaga licensees. For the current version of Polaroid (instant photography as business model?) the Gaga signing seems a Hail Mary move reminiscent of the Dot Com Super Bowl ads. Or maybe people will swarm to buy the Lady's signature instant mobile printer which "frees digital images trapped on hard drives and cell phones." The Rubie's Costumes deal is one of the reasons Lady G was one of Halloween's most popular costumers. But so were Flo, the Progressive Insurance lady, and that airline attendant who got drunk and told off all his passengers. Neither looks to be a long-lasting image.

There's no doubt all this is an enormous short-term gain for the recording artist. Amazon and iTunes are reported to have sold 250,000 to 350,000 copies of the album in its first 24 hours. The Wall Street Journal noted that while the

promotion probably gave Amazon a short-term boost ... the downloading delays frustrated the users that Amazon was trying to woo, prompting hundreds of them to complain. The online retailer also can't afford to take losses on every album, leaving the question of how it will entice consumers to come back and download the rest of its catalog at higher prices.
Lady Gaga is certainly a savvy brand creator, but there is no evidence that she has the same savvy for brand management. That's fine for her, she only needs enough money for one or two people to live extravagantly for the rest of their lives. For her partners? Well, in the future they may want to think about teaming up with someone with legs, like Hello Kitty.
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