The photo is off brand. Plain and simple.
The article, if you read it, lays out the Miley brand perfectly: A young superstar with a head on her shoulders and involved, loving parents to help her avoid the famous flame-outs of her tween predecessors. An all-American success story.
But the photo has blazed through all media. Some shock (though a summer day at any neighborhood pool is more revealing) Some anger. Mostly just disappointment. It's weird that a 15 year-old can command so much jabber. But this isn't a 15-year old. This is a billion dollar brand. And the keepers of that brand, the Cyrus collective and, yes, Disney, sure should have seen this coming and told Leibovitz to simma' down.
All girls grow up. But parents with 9, 10, 11 and 12-year olds of their own are fighting to ensure it doesn't happen too fast. Miley, 15, was a strong ally. But the photo gave them reason to wonder. There are some theories that suggest this is all by design. But it's clear now that it was not yet time for a brand extension.
So, we're left with a cautionary tale as to why people like us, people who work with brands, need to think long and hard about what we encourage those brands to do. Powerful brands come with powerful promises. Breaking those promises brings consequences. That said, we're pretty sure this brand isn't going to be withering for long.
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