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Will 2014 Be The Downfall Of The Bieber Empire?

Brent Faulkner Brent Faulkner
December 31st, 2013 11:00am EST
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Cutting straight to the chase, Justin Bieber probably had the crappiest year of his entire career.  Honestly, it was plumb terrible.  It was sort of like my favorite college basketball team, the Kentucky Wildcat’s fall from glory during the 2012-13 season after dominating the previous season with their eighth NCAA title.  Yeah, it was that bad. The problem is, even experiencing so many PR miscues, few – save for the most loyal Beliebers – ‘gave a what’. 

Personally, feeling sympathy for one of the most privileged 19-year olds in the world, whose living a dream that only a select few ever reach just isn’t an emotion that registers at this point.  Maybe, as Bieber suggests, it is because he is Justin Bieber that there is such an outcry against him.  Perhaps, it’s more that Bieber, who became a success overnight at such a young age, just comes over as an arrogant a-hole, something he specifically said he didn’t feel one Kanye West was (“Kanye West isn’t really an a$$hole…”).  Personally, his cockiness has been my rub on Bieber throughout his recent career.

The most recent FAIL speaks to at least partially to the arrogance of the Bieber brand as well.  The expectation for the tatted teen-heartthrob has become that everything that he touches turns into gold.  Basically, anything that is associated with the Bieber name or brand, will generate a tone of the green stuff for the labels, managers, and of course Bieber.  As many apparently didn’t know judging by the numbers, Justin Bieber released his second movie, Believe on Christmas Day.

While this film has been referenced a couple of times, the most overt promotional campaign directed toward this documentary seemed to be “all wrong from the start”.  Don’t let its seemingly lackadaisical promotion completely fool you though; the PR team has had some subtle tricks up their sleeves.  They haven’t been successful per say, but they did do some ‘work’.

Is it such a coincidence that Justin Bieber released and completed his ‘Music Mondays’ just prior to the release of Believe the film?  The Music Mondays series were centered on Bieber’s ‘journals’, obviously positioned to be more personal than his bubblegum pop music.  In other words, Music Mondays tries to eschew anything remotely sounding like “Beauty and the Beat”. 

The word ‘journals’ was thrown around not so subtly, leading one to believe that Bieber’s promotional team had bigger plans for random contemporary R&B tracks being thrown around.  If there weren’t bigger plans in the works, the release of the mature “PYD” featuring R. Kelly surely had to signify something… it actually drew critical praise throughout online circles, including from me. 

The ends of those ‘journals’ – an iTunes promotion that groups the tracks together for a brief period of time right before Christmas (December 23) and even more strategically the same week that Believe the film drops.  So – If the movie bombs, then that means Bieber is still getting paper from Journals? Seems that way!

While Completing Bieber’s Journals was a huge promotional trick, another risky one failed miserably, in theory.  Bieber tossed around this idea he planned to retire at the age of 19… Most hilarious, if ‘hopeful-it-does-really-happen’ joke I’ve heard all year… Anyone who serious thinks this dude is going anywhere – unless his sales completely go under – is cray cray.  Bieber has become a fixture, regardless of positivity or negativity, and is quite prosperous to both him self and the industry. Sources seem to confirm that this was another one of Bieber’s completely horrid jokes, much like when he showed his booty on Instagram.  While it may have been Bieber just playing around, the timing could also suggest this was another way to drive home some sales for that Believe film.

Ultimately, the promotions have not worked for Believe as it has underperformed even with lowered expectations according to first day numbers.  Fear not Bieber, your movie may not have a chance in the least to top the movie charts, but you did manage to top Billboard’s Social 50 chart, if that’s any consolation.  That said, the Social 50 chart certainly doesn’t make the rich any richer, unless your fuel is publicity… BUT, does his social popularity, particular with his most devoted fans, still signal Bieber has plenty of pop life in him? Perhaps. 

There is always a new teen-pop star as well as a fresher trend waiting (likely Austin Mahone), but Bieber’s empire may not come completely crumbling in 2014.  Time and the climate of music will be the big predictor of how Bieber will fare in the future.

Photo Credits: WENN


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