Marketing 101: Why Eminem’s “Berzerk” Behavior Wins

By Brett King on September 8th, 2013 / Comments

Whether you believe that Eminem entered into an Acid-fueled interview Saturday night at halftime of the Michigan vs Notre Dame football game, or whether you (as I) believe it was genius marketing, I think we can mostly agree that we were all interested in discussing it. I’m not going to spend time arguing one way or another in this brief article about Eminem’s sobriety, but what I will do is offer insight into the lessons we could learn from a marketing perspective on what moves users and content.

If you haven’t seen the entertaining and slightly uncomfortable interview yet, check it out here.

Here’s what we know: The interview with Eminem was a pre-scheduled appearance to promote his new album, new song, and new video. So one could safely state that the intent of the appearance was to raise public awareness about the upcoming and present releases. That’s worth rephrasing: The sole intent of Eminem appearing on television last night was to raise public awareness for his new album. Period. Mission accomplished.

Twitter exploded during the interview (and for awhile afterward), and Facebook is flooded this morning with heated debates and hilarious puns. The question I ask is, intentionally or not, how did Eminem’s behavior cause such a social stir?

Here’s What Worked (and what, as marketers, we should pay attention to):

1. Being Unexpected

It was clear from the initial reactions of both Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger that Eminem’s on camera behavior was not planned (well, at least to their knowledge). Poor Musburger stumbled awkwardly through questioning, and Herbstreit deserves an Emmy for the performance he put on of not bursting into laughter.

The point is that it wasn’t a typical promotion, in that obviously Eminem was acting in an “anti-social” sort of way. It didn’t follow script. Think of all the tricks Joaquin Phoenix pulled when creating his film “I’m Still Here” – and how unexpected it was when he announced his retirement from acting casually at a fundraiser event (even surprising his own insiders).

Very simply, it caught the audience off guard and forced them to really pay attention.

2. Involving a Different Audience

Though arguably a sizable portion of Eminem’s target demographic are likely football fans, it is unlikely that his name would typically appear in purely sports blogs or Twitter feeds. By effectively throwing off the normal flow of a halftime show in a significant and highly watched game, sports writers can’t afford not to address what happened in that booth. It was too large of a disruption to ignore and only talk about how many yards Michigan may have had.

So now, we have not just his fans taking to the web to talk about Slim Shady hanging with Herbstreit and Musburger, we have sports fans everywhere talking about Eminem’s “Berzerk” behavior.

Look at what Google has done recently with naming their new Android device KitKat (see article by Ricardo Bilton on Venture Beat). Google has essentially turned tech bloggers into advertisers for the KitKat brand. Try talking about the handset without thinking of breaking off a piece.

Eminem has essentially done the same by turning sports bloggers into advertisers for his new material. Try talking about the Michigan / Notre Dame game without discussing Eminem.

3. Pairing with Linkable and Sharable Content 

Finally, and most obviously, Eminem has new content to share.

It wouldn’t be as effective in reaching those who may possibly buy the album if his appearance was without the preview of a new video and song. That gives something to link to, discover, and share. Even those sports fans just talking about his appearance will have a hard time not mentioning the fact that they showed a preview of his new song and video during the interview.

Eminem’s new content feeds bloggers and gives potential purchasers something new to discover and share.

I don’t have statistics yet to disclose the full social impact that this interview had, but a quick Google search for “Eminem Michigan Game” will show just how much buzz is floating around. What I would argue with certainty is that Eminem’s on air antics engaged a greater audience outside his typical fan base than he would have otherwise in a “normal” appearance.  I’ll define normal as him answering their questions without looking dazed, no open mouthed camera stares, and a simple plug for the video and new song. Again, the entire purpose for Eminem’s appearance last night was to raise public awareness for his new album. Eminem did that, and quite honestly we should all take note.

Special thanks to Alex Beaton for her support and marketing excellence in helping to put this article together. 

Watch: Eminem’s Berzerk Video


About the Author

Brett King

Brett King is CEO & President of The Scene Magic Media , a media production and strategy company.