The mother of reinvention: Madonna's at it again, with help from daughter Lola
You may’ve liked the Super Bowl halftime show. Or loathed it. But either way, there’s nothing quite like the experience of Madonna—in person—walking right up alongside you and whispering in your ear.
So says Dari Marder, chief marketing officer of Iconix Brand Group.
Now Marder is no stranger to celebrity—she’s worked with stars, from Brittany Spears to Beyoncé to Sharon Stone. But when in recent years Iconix developed with Madonna and her daughter Lourdes, aka Lola, the Material Girl line, and Marder found herself working with the entertainment icon, it took some effort to suppress a certain…giddiness.
“At a photo shoot, say, I have to be professional and process what she’s saying, but I can’t help but think, ‘Madonna’s whispering in my ear—ohmygodohmygodohmygod,’ ” says Marder, laughing.
That Madonna has business savvy is hardly news, but what may surprise some is the fact that her marketing potential, as an international brand, seems stronger than ever.
Inevitably, Marder adds, Madonna’s comments—about the lighting, perhaps, or a model’s body position—are right on target.
“It’s often something nobody noticed, and makes all the difference,” she says. “It’s like she sees things through a different filter.”
That Madonna has business savvy is hardly news, but what may surprise some is the fact that her marketing potential, as an international brand, seems stronger than ever. And her appearance at Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show—with the whole Roman get-up, and halftime helper M.I.A. flashing all of us the finger (yeah…thanks, babe, ‘preciate that), and ALL the post-show chatter and reviews on Twitter and Facebook and media outlets across the globe—was just the start of Madonna’s VBY.
Very Big Year.
Besides her new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” which she performed onstage at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Madonna’s other ventures include a new film (W./E., about the love affair of Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, which she directed and expands into theaters across the country this month), a new record (dropping later this year) and tour (she stops in Houston Oct. 24), plus her first fragrance (Truth or Dare by Madonna, created by Coty, to be sold exclusively at Macy’s starting in April).
“Madonna is one of those celebrities people either love or don’t,” says industry analyst Marshal Cohen, of The NPD Group in Port Washington, New York. “But even those who don’t love her still love to hear what she’s up to.”
The new scent is the first product in a new Truth or Dare lifestyle brand, which will roll out footwear, accessories and intimates in September, hoping to capitalize on the success of Material Girl, the fast-fashion juniors label sold at Macy’s.
“I have always been obsessed by fragrance,” Madonna told Women’s Wear Daily, and “wanted to create something personal that was an expression of me, but that other people could relate to as well.”
She decided to create a fragrance with notes of gardenia and tuberose, reminiscent of a scent worn by her late mother. “My oldest memory of my mother is her perfume,” Madonna explained. “I carry it with me everywhere.”
If Madonna’s new venture succeeds, she’ll have reinvented herself. Again. This time, as a business titan.
“Sometimes Madonna will say, ‘I don’t really love that boot,’ but Lola will say, ‘Y’know, mom, it’s right because of this and that, and I think girls will be into it,’ and Madonna just sits back and says…’OK.’ ”
“She’s able to keep her finger on the pulse because she’s very collaborative, working with people in different fields who impart a freshness to her work,” says Marder. “I think that says a lot about her as a person.”
One familial example is Material Girl, which is essentially Lola’s line and “what Lola says goes,” Marder adds. “Sometimes Madonna will say, ‘I don’t really love that boot,’ but Lola will say, ‘Y’know, mom, it’s right because of this and that, and I think girls will be into it,’ and Madonna just sits back and says…’OK.’ ”
“One of the ways Madonna has separated herself from other celebrities is her ability to keep in the forefront of trends that go beyond her specific talent,” says Cohen. “She’s best known as a singer, but she’s gained recognition with acting, philanthropic endeavors…even adopting kids.”
Truth or Dare, which will be more sophisticated than Material Girl, will target women in their 30s and 40s. It’s supposed to resemble a glimpse in her closet.
“She’s very, very, very involved,” Marder insists. “She goes through racks of samples, very concerned about fit, especially in the intimates line.”
Of course, that launch is still months away. But Madonna, as usual, already has people chattering (and feverishly tweeting) about her as if their lives depended on it.
“Timing is everything in this business,” notes Cohen. And with her new line launching soon after the Super Bowl, he says, “her timing almost couldn’t be any better.”