Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rebecca Black: Who Dat Girl?

One of my readers sent me this one for "weirdest and worst of the web". It's Rebecca Black's viral "hit" Friday. I'm pretty sure you've all seen it and heard someone mock it. But if you haven't seen it (or if you want to watch it again ;-) )you can check it out here.

So far, the teeny-bopper's Friday video has 82 million (and counting) YouTube views and has been featured on a number of late night talk shows. Even Stephen Colbert sang it on Jimmy Falloon Late Night. But here is what my reader thought was weird. Rebecca's official vanity-made video has an 8:1 ratio of dislikes to likes on YouTube. Numerically, there are 1.6 million You Tube dislikes and 200,000 likes. My reader is right. It's an anomaly when entertainment is so wildly unliked but still gets popular.

Just for the heck of it, I thought I would run my own quick and dirty brand equity experiment. The traditional brand equity experiment is this. You take a branded product and compare it to a non-branded equivalent product. The non-branded product is considered "zero equity". The differential between the branded and the non branded is the brand equity. Pretty simple stuff. So I asked this question:

You have the choice to listen to only one of the following "pop" music artists all night.

Rebecca Black (Singer of the Friday song)
Rebeca Jackson (A singer you have never heard of)

Which musical artist will you select?

Here are the results from 60 responses.

According to my unscientific results of the survey, Rebecca Black has negative brand equity. In other words, her brand is a liability. Given the YouTube dislike ratings, this finding is hardly surprising. The comments on YouTube give some additional perspective on where this "negative equity" comes from. Some argue that her song is just plain bad. Some post that the lyrics suck. (But, I Got a Feelin', We R Who We R, and We're Not Gonna Take it aren't exactly Shakespearian.) Others criticize her voice. (Bob Dylan's voice is iconic but is a lot wierder) Others trash Black because they speculate that she is a spoiled kid whose parents purchased her song production and video for vanity purposes. (Music being made vanity purposes and an artist's desire for adulation! Wow, that's never happened before!) I'm going to argue that the traditional brand equity measure is missing something- the platform that Rebecca has created via her brand awareness.

I've spent quite a bit of time on this blog commenting on how difficult it is to capture consumers' attention. Developing brand awareness has never been so competitive - and keeping it more challenging. But Rebecca has got it- and now can leverage it. In a world of sexually explicit music (eg. Akon, Katy Perry, Enrique Iglesias), Rebecca has a refreshing angle to work: clean, catchy teenage pop. Through a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign and a little help from a polished producer, Rebecca can be on the highway stardom. Think of it this way, if only 1/9 of Black's YouTube visitors come back to check out her next single (in keeping with the ratio of her likes:dislikes), that's still around 10 million downloads- more than the number of downloads that veteran performers Flo-Rida/ Akon's hit Who Dat Girl has. That's not a bad platform for Rebecca to start from.


  1. Most people probably watched it out of curiosity, like myself and therefore drove the # of views up. If I hear an Akon song and decide I don't like Akon's voice, I wouldn't look at another video of his same now for Rebecca. True, her followers will still make her popular but I wonder if the next video/song she comes out with will land as many "dislikes" views. Do another survey on that just to see how the anomaly effect works the 2nd time around. Not sure the "clean" teeny bopper thing will last...didn't last for Miley Cyrus :) Many teen girls want to be "bad girl" and sexier as they get older. It's part of the societal pressures these days. The only one who stayed squeaky clean in my eyes was Debbie Gibson...and the 80's were not "pressure years" to be sexy. Madonna paved that way herself in that era.

  2. There is a group that is probably very jealous of this girl's success.

  3. I can not believe how nasty and cruel the comments are on You Tube about Rebecca Black. The girl is a 13 year old. As a 23 year old woman, I can't imagine how I would have handled such cruelty when I was 13.

  4. Don't journalists like Chris Parry, Vancouver Sun have better things to do than pick on a kid? What a fing dork. The biggest losers out of all of this are the journalists who reserve their harshest criticism for a 13 year old.

  5. If you put yourself out there, you have to face the wrath of the market

  6. @ anonymous above. The market is cruel and pities no one. Such is life.