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April 29, 2008

Hannah Montana Learns About Entertainment Naming and Branding the Hard Way

miley-cyrus-billy-ray-cyrus-vanity-fair.pngThe world of entertainment naming is a difficult one to navigate and protect, as is evidenced by the uproar today over Miley Cyrus’s seemingly provocative photo shoot for Vanity Fair.

There are several big names here that are under fire: Miley Cryus (who just changed her name from Destiny Hope), Hannah Montana, Disney, and famed celeb photographer Annie Leibovitz.


Cyrus is the fifteen year old star behind Disney’s clean-cut Hannah Montana brand name. This photo shoot, which was carried out apparently under parental supervision, is really an example of Annie Leibovitz just doing what she does best: creating edgy photos of people in the public eye. In this case, however, the person was a minor and some feel Leibovitz pushed the envelope a bit to far.

Miley Cyrus is topless in these pictures (if you’re the type who believes that being wrapped in a sheet is topless), which is a problem since Miley is, after all, a minor and Disney’s Hannah Montana target audience is 6-14 years old. Even Annie Leibovitz is on the defensive, despite the fact that Miley picked out the photos for publication herself.

LogoDisney.pngDisney has weighed in, accusing Vanity Fair of "manipulating” Cyrus to get the sordid shots, which come after the embarrassing (but still essentially g-rated) pictures appeared on the Internet of the clean cut star.

People magazine readers overwhelmingly think the pictures are inappropriate, although many think they are “artistic." They could be both, but for a minor, the former trumps the latter.

I just have to ask how many youngsters are really reading Vanity Fair? I also have to ask what kind of contracts is Disney giving out to these kids?

I would imagine that if Disney was really thoughtful about protecting its brand naming, it might make partially nude photo shoots for stars of its pre-teen entertainment lines off limits.

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Posted by William Lozito at April 29, 2008 8:56 AM
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