Case Study: Kanye West

The biggest highlight from tonight’s 2009 Video Music Awards on MTV definitely belongs to Kanye West.  Even if you didn’t watch the show, you’ve likely heard people talking about it.  Taylor Swift was awarded Best Female Video for her song “You Belong With Me.”  As she was starting her acceptance speech, Kanye crashed the stage and took the microphone from Taylor to pronounce “Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.”  Beyonce was horrified.  Taylor was shocked.  And, then he was gone.  MTV cut to commercials; so, we didn’t hear Taylor’s comments.  We could only see the hurt and stunned expression on her face.

This isn’t Kanye’s first controversy.  You may recall his crashed a previous award show to express his anger that he was not the winner.  During the Grammy Awards a few years ago, soon after his mother died, he chastised the show’s producers for cutting short his acceptance speech to remain on stage longer.  Of course, you’ll remember his infamous “George Bush hates Black people” comments.  And, there are countless other examples of Kanye’s arrogance during numerous interviews and blog posts.

But, we remember all of his appearances … and THAT is the lesson for all of us in the entertainment industry.  We are responsible for producing memorable content, memorable moments, reasons for the audience to come back to us for more!

Love him or hate him now, Kanye West is the biggest pop star in the country this morning.  He will be THE talk of morning radio, entertainment shows, and blogs.  He was mentioned in more than 1-MILLION tweets BEFORE the awards were over.

I’m not going to claim MTV had advance knowledge of Kanye’s interruption; but, security could have certainly stopped him before he reached the stage knowing his past outbursts.  It was also convenient to have Taylor Swift on the ready backstage when Beyonce’s award was announced.  VMA ratings have been on the downslide.  But, now thanks to Kanye, they will dominate water cooler conversation most of the week.  Taylor looks cute and professional as the “victim.”  Kanye perpetuates his role as the egotistical ass.  And, MTV owns the night and celebrity headlines all week.

We’ve had plenty of these moments on all of our stations.  For example:  the Mayor’s “controversial” endorsement of commercial free mornings on 107.9 The Track.  Or, the surprise appearance by Peyton Manning during Z99.5’s Jingle Jam two years ago.  And, numerous scoops during Abdul’s morning show on WXNT.

It’s unrealistic to try to create one of these “water cooler moments” every break or even every day.  But, they are a necessity. 

Kanye West has become a genius at hijacking other people’s “moments.”

We have the opportunity to create our own moments everyday through multiple media channels that we control – on air, on line, on stream, on site, on social networking.

How can we take ordinary content and make it extraordinary?

What can we do that will get people talking about us next?

Let’s brainstorm ways to supersize our stations.  We can do the same thing with our advertising partners.  I look forward to hearing your suggestions.

Oh, and we don’t have to be the douchebag like Kanye.  We can do it with the class of Beyonce:


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