And then on Friday night we watched the documentary movie of his life, "Never Say Never" (yes, we are sad old people that stay home on Friday evenings watching TV). Since then, I have a newfound respect for the young man and his extensive support team. They are the brand-meisters of today and there is a load that marketers can learn from what they have done and achieved. Granted, one shouldn't take as gospel all that one sees in the movies as they themselves are likely propaganda of sorts, but even if one was to view it as mere examples, these highlight how to build a brand that has real relationships with people in the current context.
So why is it that I am in such awe of their marketing ability? What is it that they are getting so right?
Since he was a toddler, Justin's (teenage) mum has been making home videos of him. These show his innate talent from an early age and how this was nurtured by those around him and really driven by a very determined and ambitious young boy. At first he struggled to make it in the music world, the home videos show him as a young lad sitting on the street playing his guitar, and then he was discovered on YouTube by a man named Scoter and shortly thereafter by Usher. The rest, as they say, is history. But the story is powerful. It draws you in, makes you respect what he has achieved and makes him really real.
In his movie, Justin is shown playing in an informal venue to a group of young girls. He picks up a girl who must be about five from the audience and pops her on his lap and together they sing one of his songs. He is also shown welcoming a continuous stream of small groups of girls back stage, giving each a kiss and having a picture taken with them. He opens up, puts himself out there and welcomes his fans in, allowing them to participate in his world. In addition, he collaborates with other stars like Usher, Miley Cyrus and Jaden Smith which broadens his appeal to other fans (as if he needs any more!).
Whether it is sending his team out to find desperate fans and giving them free tickets to his concerts or inviting one lucky girl from the audience onto stage whilst he serenades her with "One Less Lonely Girl" (as well as receiving a bunch of red roses and a JB kiss!), Justin knows how to make people feel special.
Social media, specifically YouTube, was critical to Justin being discovered and therefore his success. Early videos of him competing in his local talent contests were posted and attracted thousands of comments, sharing and fans. He was providing content that people loved. Today this is obviously on a far greater scale but importantly he still chats to his fans via twitter (all 22 million of them), sharing photo's, responding to what fans are saying, and importantly recognising and thanking them for their support.
I could go on and on but I think that these four lessons are enough for now.
The question is, are the brands we are responsible for adopting these techniques to build our own "Beliebers"?