Lady Gaga’s “no makeup” Oscar look is a lesson in viral marketing

Confession: I wish I could “play it cool” and have a Zen attitude about my former career choice (did you know I was a successful actress for 10+ years?) but I still UGLY CRY watching emotional moments from the Academy Awards broadcast.

While wholeheartedly acknowledging that the Oscars have a LOT of problematic elements woven through their past & present, these awards present a rare chance to see someone’s dream LITERALLY come true before my eyes. (LFG, KE HUY KWAN!!!!!! Pass the tissues!!!)

I enjoy watching clips from the Oscars because there’s NOTHING I love more than witnessing creative people get to do the thing they love (criminally rare) and take their moment to celebrate.

In addition to all the (long overdue) history-making moments for Asian artiststhe other thing that flooded my post-Oscars news feed was Lady Gaga singing her nominated song “Hold My Hand”…

But not for the reason I expected

Apparently, one of the MOST “news” worthy moments of the night was: “Lady Gaga WIPES OFF HER MAKEUP for Oscar performance”!!

…Wait, huh??

THAT’s what y’all got from that?

But also…if she HADN’T wiped off her makeup, would the song have gotten the same level of attention?

Honestly? I don’t think so. 😬

While a woman choosing not to wear makeup SHOULDN’T be a headline-making decision, it clearly was.

Here’s what we can learn from it as a “marketing” moment:

1. One of the best ways to get eyes on your creative projects / content / business / brand is to FLIP THE SCRIPT. Everyone was expecting a polished performer clad in a couture ballgown. By showing up bare faced in ripped jeans and a plain black t-shirt, she got our total attention because it was totally unexpected.

(It’s also why Timothy Chalemet always “wins” the red carpet: people get excited to see what unique, unexpected thing he’s gonna wear. )

Marketing Lesson >>> Don’t worry about imitating others in order to “fit in”! If we give “more of the same”, we get lost in the crowd.

2. Beyond her appearance, Lady Gaga also stripped down the performance itself, letting her voice shine without any auto-tune or big orchestrations, which helped us hear the MESSAGE of the performance.

Marketing lesson >>> Showing up as yourself (without a lot of “production”) makes people feel like they KNOW you, which makes them feel like they can TRUST you/your message.

So yeah, while I don’t love that the “news” was that a woman went on TV without makeup, I did find it an interesting exercise in personal branding.

What do YOU think? Did you have any big takeaways from Oscar night?