Personal Brands: Ricky Martin’s Evolution

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After years of flirting around the topic, Ricky Martin revealed that he was gay last week by blogging on his site, “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man.”

Ellen DeGeneres made the strategic move with her announcement in Time, Clay Aiken in People, and Sean Hayes in The Advocate. Martin clearly chose a different approach to revealing the news of his sexual orientation. And while many assert that such private information is none of the public’s business, celebrities do live in a world different than the rest of us – and managing their personal brands is big business.

Thanks to Sandra Bullock taking the front page, People relegated Martin’s story to the middle of the book. In a people.com poll, 54 percent of respondents agreed that Martin being gay was the least shocking news of the week. It was less shocking than news of Elin not attending the Masters and that Katherine Heigl is leaving Grey’s Anatomy.[more]

John Reilly, a spokesman for Mr. Martin, said that the singer telling fans he was gay on his site was “the most natural way to communicate this significant moment in his life.” He has cultivated a relationship with fans online and has 782,000 followers on Twitter. Further, he added, Mr. Martin was “looking to convey the full spectrum of his thoughts” without editing.

How exactly will this revelation affect Ricky Martin’s personal brand? Will it be perceived as a savvy marketing effort in anticipation of an autobiography the singer is working on? Or a simple and sincere public update regarding a personal aspect of his life?

Regardless, Martin’s last US studio album, Life, released in 2005, sold around 200,000 copies – much less than the 17 million copies Ricky Martin sold with the album that featured “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” It will be interesting to see what the Ricky Martin brand does next.

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