Say what you will about Madonna, but the girl’s got game when it comes to smart, counter-intuitive marketing.
Today, the Vatican issued a strong statement denouncing Madonna’s current concert tour which, coincidentally, includes a date in Rome. Thanks to the Church’s castigation and the resulting worldwide coverage, Madonna’s bad girl antics received a beautiful shot of extra publicity and hype.
While I’m sure the Vatican spinmeisters believe their decision to condemn Madonna’s concerts was a sound one, all it really accomplished was to create additional buzz for the sensual siren. And, her decision to perform right in the Pope’s backyard is pure marketing genius. In fact, it reminds me of what Toyota has been doing to GM for the past few years.
First, Toyota began buying naming rights for sports stadiums (and, as GM liked to lament, "wrapping the American flag around themselves"). Then, they drove right over Chevy Truck’s market domination by holding one guerilla marketing event after another in such traditional GM strongholds as Texas. Finally, to add insult to injury, Toyota laid down the ultimate gauntlet by declaring they’d be the number one car seller in GM’s home state of Michigan.
I can tell you, first-hand, that the folks at GM were apoplectic about Toyota’s marketing prowess and, like the Vatican, made a bunch of statements and did a bunch of price-cutting promotions that did little more than further accentuate Toyota’s leadership role.
Nowadays, market share goes not only to the swift, but to the savvy as well. Madonna’s conquest of Rome and Toyota’s outflanking of GM on its home court, are just two examples.