The collision of Art, Politics and Marketing

The pop group Milli Vanilli were one of the first known “manufactured for a market” acts, in which a music producer assembled a group of talented musicians and singers and got them to create songs which were lip-synched by a couple of talented dancers. The audience was not meant to see beyond the package represented by the two guys dancing and ostensibly singing on stage.

Spinning Boris, the 2003 film starring Jeff Goldblum, tells the story of a group of American “political consultants” who use marketing techniques (including the much-maligned focus group) to re-package former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and turn around his election campaign.

It’s one thing to create a fake music act, quite another to create a fake political act – the latter has serious implications. Will the politician continue the act, constantly polling the masses and giving them what they want (as in the US) or will he revert to his true self after the election? In any event, I think most people would prefer authentic leaders who truly believe in their message. But how are we to tell?

On a happier note, the Real Milli Vanilli album Moment of Truth, featuring the genuine singers, spawned 3 hit singles.


  1. […] There is a finer point to be made here. Some kinds of marketing activities are obviously unethical. What about the Milli Vanilli type of "product fabrication"? There's no doubt that people who bought Milli Vanilli albums were attracted by the photogenic dancing duo who represented the "package" and undoubtedly enjoyed the music, but their reaction to the truth demonstrated that people don't like being misled. […]

  2. […] This is why the whole Kaavya Viswanathan story about a young debutant author who was caught plagiarizing and had hired a book packager to "shape" her book, has gotten so much negative publicity. Anybody remember Milli Vanilli? […]

  3. […] Boris Yeltsin, who brought a modicum of democracy to Russia, was desperate enough in his re-election attempt to […]

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