Editor's comment: Going Gaga

Two years ago, Stefani Germanatto was an unsung burlesque dancer from New York. Today, her pop-star alter ego, Lady Gaga, is one of the biggest brands on the planet.

While hits including the infernally catchy Poker Face may have made Lady Gaga a global star, it's the meticulous management of her image that has turned her into a multimillion-pound earner.

Of course, arriving at the MTV Awards wearing a bird's nest as a hat or a TV interview in an outfit made of Kermit the Frogs is a sure-fire way to get noticed. However, the singer's strategy extends far beyond her weird and wonderful wardrobe. Everything she does is carefully orchestrated to build her brand. Every video is a lesson in the art of viral marketing and every personal appearance expertly optimised for the social-media generation.

Her strategy has been so effective that she recently became the most-watched artist on the web, with her videos notching up a record 1bn views. She also has 4.8m Twitter followers, more than 20 times as many as pop megastar Kylie Minogue.

It's no surprise, then, that Lady Gaga's move into merchandising has been seamless. As we reveal on the cover, the singer is partnering Coty to launch a perfume in the UK before Christmas.

The question is: where will the star, whose appeal lies in her uniqueness, draw the line? Relentless merchandising doesn't appear to have done rock band Kiss any harm (visit their website and you can buy everything from branded coffins to condoms), but if reports of a trademark covering products such as Lady Gaga boxer shorts and mobile phone covers are to be believed, then her brand values could be compromised.

Having said that, she has proved herself to be a shrewd marketer, helping to forge a new business model for the entertainment industry. 'Eau de Gaga' may prove to be a chart-topper too.


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