Yesterday, on Advertising Age’s website, I read that Madonna, “The Material Girl,” has chosen to tie herself (relax, not literally, boys) and the release of her upcoming album, “Hard Candy” to Unilever’s Sunsilk shampoo. Through a reported $10 million endorsement deal, the “Boy Toy” plans to “create a unique music-brand partnership.” With the album’s first single, “4-minutes (to Save the World)” simulcast on (rock?) stations around the world, as well as backing a new Sunsilk commercial; Madonna, her producers, and Unilever are hoping the release effort will create a “never seen before” world-wide buzz.

So I stopped. I put down my coffee. I pushed back my chair, and I picked up my jaw from the floor beneath.


You see, I had the honor of growing up in “the 80’s.” It was, for lack of a better word, interesting – a little glossier than “the 70’s” and a whole lot more superficial than “the 90’s.” “The 80’s” was a time where you could peg your GUESS jeans, turn your collar(s) up and cruse on over, in your IROC, to pick up your Madonna-wanna’-be girlfriend. She, in true Madonna fashion, would dance out of the house wearing combat boots, intentionally torn stockings capped precariously by a 4” swatch of denim, and an off the shoulder, lace tank top covering a neon pink bra that was (at least) one cup-size too small. And on top of all that was five to seven inches of back combed, moose-laden skizz towering at a 30-degree angle over the poor girl’s painted face.

Yeah… good times… sigh. I was in my teens then. But now I’m 39, I have a daughter, and that just seems a little disturbing. No, strike that. I find that A LOT DISTURBING.

In a press release, Unilever’s David Rubin states:

“Madonna continues to be such an inspiration for young girls by continuously reinventing her looks, and we expect the new commercial will also encourage girls to evolve by changing their looks and making their hair and lives happen in a variety of exciting ways.”

Wha? Are we talking about the same Madonna?

Madonna, for the better part of 25 years, has been pushing herself as everything BUT a role model. Sure, she was an ever-evolving hit-maker for the MTV generation, but at no time did we assume that she was someone to hold up as a good example for future generations. Have we forgotten “Truth Or Dare” and her FIRST published book… And did Unilever sleep through Madonna’s Pepsi fiasco?

For $10 million dollars, I think Unilever should be looking over their collective shoulders. This can only come up and bite them right where their wallets should have stayed… smart and secure.

Sure, Madonna has made some “decent” contributions in the last few years. Her refreshed commitment to her religion, a children’s book or two, and the adoption of a Malawian child are just a few examples. But in the same breath, and in TRUE Branding fashion, let’s take another look at her new album… see it here. Role model? Riiiiiiiiiiiiight…

In a post I made back in January, I talked about Bob Dylan as a brand. And based on his CONSISTENCY, his brand was TRUE. He made innovations that positively affected not only the Bob Dylan brand, but our culture as well. On that same note, no one ever touted him as a role model for adolescents.

With that, here’s a warning to Unilever. Madonna is a Brand Mess. Like a hair stuck in the back of your throat, she’s simply… ACK!

Of course, I rant… or am I just getting old? What do you think? What are your reactions to this “partnership?”

Until next time –
Keep Cooking!

Thank you Berkeley Breathed (one of my idols) for the use of Bill the cat’s image!

  1. Does anyone really believe that Madonna uses now, or has every used, Sunsilk shampoo or any shampoo with the Unilever brand?! Seriously?

    Also, love Bill the Cat! You don’t see him around very often anymore…

  2. Good point… Madonna’s hair has likely NEVER seen a Unilever Brand Shampoo.

    And, yes, Bill’s back… ACK!

    Keep Cooking!