Lady Gaga's claws milk the zeitgeist

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2012, 12:00am


You know Lady Gaga is a force of nature - or is it culture? - when your own young daughter at home and bosses in the office are falling under her spell.

My daughter's face lit up when I innocently told her the hottest singer on earth is coming to town. Unbeknown to me, she has become one of Gaga's countless 'little monsters'. She's been making this weird claw gesture that I found puzzling. But now I know; it's Mother Monster's signature move. No one quite knows what it signifies except to indicate that you are a fan.

My daughter demanded to see the concert. Luckily, I had on hand a copy of my own newspaper, which has carried stories practically every day about the long queues for tickets. Sorry, kiddo, all sold out. Better her disappointed than me camping overnight outside a ticketing booth.

And that takes us to the genius of the Lady Gaga publicity machine. As her manager, Troy Carter, once put it, referring to New York venues: 'It is better to sell out three Radio Cities in five minutes than it is to sell out one Madison Square Garden over three weeks. Selling out quickly is a great story and we are in the storytelling business.'

Exactly! Every newspaper in Hong Kong has been running that same story of Carter's. With the media falling over themselves for any scrap of Gaga news, her concerts don't need advertising.

Like the Apple iPads, whose releases and upgrades become news stories by themselves, the fact that Gaga is coming to Hong Kong feeds a news cycle, even though all that happens or will happen is that she announces she will come, she comes, she sings and she leaves. That's not news, but we cynical hacks are easily fooled.

The Lady Gaga juggernaut is so phenomenal that Harvard Business School has produced not one but two studies on the subject. Harvard has got it right - the Lady Gaga business is more interesting than her music.