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Miley Cyrus Wants Kids to Get in Her Jeans, But is That a Good Idea?

July 8, 2009

“The jeans are my favorite part of the entire line. Because, like, literally this is going to be good for, like, Middle America, and it will be great for kids that really want to be in fashion but that don’t have it available.”

Nope, that’s not a quotation from Cicero or Martin Luther King, but rather a startlingly incoherent comment from Miley Cyrus on her forthcoming clothing line, soon gracing the racks at a Walmart near you.

Reports of Miley’s clothing line with designer Max Azria are emerging only a few days after I accidentally discovered another questionable extension of the Hannah/Miley brand: Hannah Montana Cereal. Or, more precisely, Hannah Montana Multi-Grain Secret Identity Cereal. That’s a sickly sweet mouthful, which, according to Mr. Breakfast, isn’t all that great.

This jeans-cereal 1-2 punch of marketing chutzpah got me thinking about the corporate culture purveyors’ barely disguised (and not exactly new) desire to turn childhood into an entirely branded experience.

Let’s think about it. In addition to such intangibles as love, security, and creativity, kids need food and clothes—commodities—for survival. Marketing 101 and Intro to Economics alums will remember that commodity sales are driven by price-based decisions. If all widgets are the same, then I will buy the cheapest widget.

Of course, some products are of higher quality than others, and we all have our preferences. I simply can’t treat coffee as a commodity and base my purchase solely on price. I also have product loyalty for aftershave and hot sauce. Sriracha Hot Sauce is the indisputable champion, though it should not, repeat SHOULD NOT, also be used as an aftershave.

If not for the intervention of advertising, more of our purchases would follow this simple logic—I buy the cheapest commodities and, when possible, the best products.

But kids aren’t clamoring for Hannah Montana cereal over some other sugar-bomb because it’s the commodity they need or the product they prefer. It’s purely brand influence. Which is, of course, exactly how Disney, Miley, and especially Billy Ray Cyrus must have it. After all, Billy Ray’s gotta have a steady and large stream of income for mullet upkeep.

Kids don’t need brands. But they are constantly assaulted by ads from media companies and the junk food industry, and I fear the onslaught’s intensity will only increase as negative economic trends persist. Far too many of those ads will continue to hint to kids and parents alike that failure to purchase a particular brand equals insufficient parental love. That’s nasty stuff—not only commodifying one of those intangibles that all kids need, but branding it too.

So I can’t help thinking that the marketing of Miley Jeans will be similar, and they won’t actually be “great for kids” in “Middle America.” Especially if Max Azria designs those jeans solely for skinny-kid fashionistas. The Hannah Montana cereal loyalists will be doubly screwed—got fat from the cereal, can’t wear the jeans and be cool.

I don’t necessarily begrudge the institutional health of Disney, Walmart, or Billy Ray Cyrus’s mullet, but I wish our kids and our priorities didn’t have to suffer for those giants to profit.

That said, if Miley Jeans are for adults too, and they make my ass look hot, all bets may be off…

  1. fieldengrey permalink
    July 8, 2009 3:55 pm

    No set of jeans can make your ass look as hot as pair of beige Dockers. Write it down.

  2. Jeff permalink
    July 9, 2009 6:36 am

    I am not sure what would make your achey breaky ass look hot, but….the Dockers might be a better idea!

  3. mfan permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:32 pm

    I sometimes buy Hannah Montana cereal because, if I’m going to be eating cereal anyway, I might as well support Miley. Her gummi vitamins are delicious and good for you.


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