Material Girl and Mother Monster

Besides the obvious similarity in their profession and the huge popularity enjoyed by the two music artists, the other common point between Madonna and Lady GaGa is that they both have been chosen the subject of case study at B Schools.


I remember having an interesting start to the strategy class at London Business School with a slide on Madonna. Came to know that she started her career in 1982 and by 2008 she had amassed personal fortune of $300 million with a record sale of 220 million albums. Michael Jackson wondered what it was about her that made her so popular. Not a great dancer or a singer and yet she is always at your face. The answer lies in her positioning, efficiently leveraging and exploiting resources, employees, relationships (Prince, Warren Beatty, Sean Penn & Guy Ritchie) and other organizing skills such as building and using and even breaking alliances, creating controversy, manipulating press but above all ambition, discipline and self development. With an uncanny ability to spot trends, Madonna became known for her music and sex appeal in the period 1988 – 1995, turned to brazen sexuality and controversy in 1996 – 2002 and again reinvented herself into spirituality and politics between 2004 – 2008. She has a very strong sense of what it takes to survive in the business.

Now Lady Gaga has been chosen the subject of a case study at European School of Management and Technology, in Germany. Gaga’s case is different than that of Madonna as she is recognized by music industry insiders as having real talent. She is known to never lip-sync during performances and also writes many of her own songs. Nicknamed as ‘Mother Monster’ and recognized by most for her provocative outfits and wild shows, she is “the most successful contemporary entertainer”. High demand for a special 99-cent download of her album ’Born This Way’ caused the servers of online retailer Amazon to crash.

Says Professor Krupp, Gaga seems to have found the balance between business and art. At a time when the music industry is struggling to compete with free Internet download, Lady Gaga has adapted social media and used her social media strategy to her fullest advantage. She has developed an army of fans through virtual interaction by using Facebook and micro-blogging site Twitter.


The two cases highlight that an individual or an organization can shake up an established industry and bring about strategic innovation by framing and answering the three fundamental strategic questions “Who, What , How” ; “Who is the customer”. “What do we offer this customer,” and “How do we create value for the customer – and ultimately for ourselves”.

3 thoughts on “Material Girl and Mother Monster

  1. Amazing. We need to look deeper on the use of Social Media and how Mother Monster is making best use of reaching out with products (new songs and concerts!) to a massive audience… I learn that they both are ahead of the curve in adopting new technology.


  2. I like this post. An unusual subject but dealt well. Yes its true, its no longer about art or talent. Its only entertainments and brand recall. Sad but true…Very well written, keep it up


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