MMI Watercooler

Backstreet’s Back: PR Lessons From An Aging Boy Band

by Kelsie Murdock on 08/16/2013

I, like many other 20- and 30-somethings in Raleigh, am proudly attending a Backstreet Boys concert Tuesday evening. My eight-year-old self is squealing with joy and dancing around my room singing into a hairbrush because I will finally see the then-love of my life, Nick Carter (pre-rehab and dating Paris Hilton, y’all. I have standards). When buying my tickets with friends and asking around the office and my social circles, I realized something seemingly obvious but pretty interesting: Our age group is the new target audience, and shrieking tweens have no idea who these boy band gods are. And, most importantly, this is beyond OK. Rather than trying to keep up with the times and produce new content for Beliebers and One Direction fans, the Backstreet Boys realized a few crucial things:

1) Their former target age group is too obsessed with Bieber, One Direction, Selena Gomez, etc. to pay them any attention. These people do not know who they are. Further, the whole “boy band” idea of the late ‘90s and early 2000s is no longer relevant (at least in the same way it was years ago). Spending countless hours in the studio recording new material for a younger audience and practicing their dance moves for this new breed of tweens is a wasted effort. Plus, they probably learned that it’s a little more challenging to shake their “groove thangs” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M6samPEMpM) all night now that they are adults with kids and aching knees. 
2) Therefore, these tweens will not spend their allowances on their new album, waiting for weeks for it to finally be released so they can listen to every song 500 times and hang the free-with-purchase poster on their wall (not that I did that or anything). Pretty depressing odds for BSB, right? Wrong. Because while these two points are true, so is this:
3) Loyal fans who spent their childhood and tween years obsessing over which Backstreet Boy they were going to marry are more than happy (read: ELATED) to drop some money on a concert and more. We may be an older age group than Bieber’s crew, but we actually bought the new album (http://www.eonline.com/news/330661/reunited-backstreet-boys-announce-new-album) (Kevin Richardson is back in the band! Woohoo!), know the new and old songs, and are already preparing to dance our tails off and bring back our long-retired tween shrieks. Further, we don’t have to ask mom to buy us a concert tee because guess what? We’re all grown up and can do it all by ourselves. And we will! Heck, I may even buy an actual CD for my car just for old time’s sake. And guess who will profit from this? You guessed it! Our friends, the Backstreet Boys. 
So what can we learn from the Backstreet Boys? A very valid lesson, in my opinion. Does your former demographic no longer relate to you? Are you losing your former appeal (and dollars) as a result? Are you struggling to fit in with the latest trend in your industry? Re-evaluate! Stand out! Reconnect with your core values and mission and own it! Not everyone can be the “Justin Bieber” of an industry, and that’s OK. Take the time to reconsider your audience and you will likely find a whole different demographic of squealing fans ready to become loyal, diehard brand advocates. Stop focusing so much on who your competitors are reaching, and realistically outline your options, strategically selecting the demographic that, while they might not be in the “cool club” anymore, will most benefit and resonate with your brand. If the Backstreet Boys can do it, so can you. 
OK. Enough of that for now. I have to go relearn the choreography from the “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” music video. Nick Carter and team await!    
  1. Their former target age group is too obsessed with Bieber, One Direction, Selena Gomez, etc. to pay them any attention. These people do not know who they are. Further, the whole “boy band” idea of the late ‘90s and early 2000s is no longer relevant (at least in the same way it was years ago). Spending countless hours in the studio recording new material for a younger audience and practicing their dance moves for this new breed of tweens is a wasted effort. Plus, they probably learned that it’s a little more challenging to shake their “groove thangs” all night now that they are adults with kids and aching knees. 
  2. Therefore, these tweens will not spend their allowances on their new album, waiting for weeks for it to finally be released so they can listen to every song 500 times and hang the free-with-purchase poster on their wall (not that I did that or anything). Pretty depressing odds for BSB, right? Wrong. Because while these two points are true, so is this:
  3. Loyal fans who spent their childhood and tween years obsessing over which Backstreet Boy they were going to marry are more than happy (read: ELATED) to drop some money on a concert and more. We may be an older age group than Bieber’s crew, but we actually bought the new album (Kevin Richardson is back in the band! Woohoo!), know the new and old songs, and are already preparing to dance our tails off and bring back our long-retired tween shrieks. Further, we don’t have to ask mom to buy us a concert tee because guess what? We’re all grown up and can do it all by ourselves. And we will! Heck, I may even buy an actual CD for my car just for old time’s sake. And guess who will profit from this? You guessed it! Our friends, the Backstreet Boys. 

So what can we learn from the Backstreet Boys? A very valid lesson, in my opinion. Does your former demographic no longer relate to you? Are you losing your former appeal (and dollars) as a result? Are you struggling to fit in with the latest trend in your industry? Re-evaluate! Stand out! Reconnect with your core values and mission and own it! Not everyone can be the “Justin Bieber” of an industry, and that’s OK. Take the time to reconsider your audience and you will likely find a whole different demographic of squealing fans ready to become loyal, diehard brand advocates. Stop focusing so much on who your competitors are reaching, and realistically outline your options, strategically selecting the demographic that, while they might not be in the “cool club” anymore, will most benefit and resonate with your brand. If the Backstreet Boys can do it, so can you. 

OK. Enough of that for now. I have to go relearn the choreography from the “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” music video. Nick Carter and team await!    



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Roslyn said...

YES to all of the above.  I got to see the Boys last night, and let me tell you…they know exactly who their audience is.  They know we’ve grown up with them, and they can talk about changing diapers one moment and make dirty jokes the next. 

Aching knees?  If so, they’re doing a great job hiding it!  They can still do the Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) dance like pros!

Sep 06, 2013

Kelsie said...

Roslyn, thanks for reading! I am so glad you understand! They do such a great job of understanding and appreciating their audience! And you’re right about the knees- i was proven wrong on that one. They are still great dancers (and I am still in love with Nick Carter!). It was one of the best nights ever.

Sep 06, 2013