Lady Gaga Beats One Drum, Silences Another (for a Good Cause)


Lady Gaga may be going silent (at least on social media), but she’s not dialing down her product endorsements.

The latest: lending her image (and Poker Face) to KDDI’s au smartphone, a Japanese Android-enabled model featuring Skype instant messaging and other capabilities. With consumers not exactly loyal to mobile phone brands these days, KDDI is clearly hoping to make au a wow among smartphone users.

As for Gaga’s social media vow of silence, she’s joining other celebs ceasing Facebooking and tweeting for a good cause.[more]

The reigning queen of social media is leading entertainment royalty joining forces for World AIDS Day – leveraging social media in an unprecedented move to raise awareness and money.

On Wednesday, December 1st, Lady Gaga, celeb photographer David LaChapelle, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Serena Williams, Elijah Wood and Kim Kardashian are quitting Facebook and Twitter cold turkey – suspending all social networking activity until their fans, in aggregate, raise $1 million for charity.

Dubbed “Digital Death,” the idea took root in Alicia Keys’ Keep a Child Alive charity that raises funds for medical care and services for children and families affected by H.I.V. and AIDS in Africa and India. 

Keys is one of a growing group of celebrities harnessing social media for social good, using their personal brands and fame as the lure. “It’s really exciting. No foundation has used the technology before like we are,” Keys tells the New York Times.

Her first blush with the potency of social media came a few years ago with an appearance on American Idol, when a single on-air plea for Keep a Child Alive raised “half a million dollars in about four minutes,” says Leigh Blake, co-founder. To date the charity has raised $27 million. 

Keys and Blake launched Buy Life in September. Selling “This Shirt Fights AIDS” t-shirts with an imprinted bar code enables mobile users with Wimo or Stickybits apps to donate $10 by scanning the Buy Life t-shirt bar code.

Keys made personal appeals to fellow celebs for “Digital Death” week and was struck by the power of that appeal: “When I laid down the whole concept, it was impossible to say no.”  

Including Lady Gaga, the virtual Who’s Who of celeb digerati will call on their social media fans and followers, (29 million on Twitter alone) to go silent online… after texting the first name of the celebrity they’re “mourning” to 90999, and $10 will be donated…until the $1 million mark is reached. 

“It’s a really instant way of grabbing their compassion,” says Blake. “We’re taking the fixation with retail and with buying and all of that, and we’re turning it on its head…The artists and celebrities get that they are sort of being devoured already, so they might as well have a bar code.” 

Lady Gaga alone has more than 7 million Twitter followers, and 24 million Facebook fans. Keep a Child Alive is betting that her absence — albeit temporary, along with her fellow celebs — will echo loudly in cyberspace. 

Cognizant of the inherent irony in the “Digital Death” stunt, Keys told the BBC: “This is such a direct and instantly emotional way and a little sarcastic, you know, of a way to get people to pay attention.” 

Blake adds, “We’re trying to sort of make the remark: ‘Why do we care so much about the death of one celebrity as opposed to millions and millions of people dying in the place that we’re all from?'” 

It’s certainly a tipping point in the evolution of social media and celebrity power: shedding light on gripping societal problems and drawing out the inherent goodness of the average fan or tweeter.

But are fans bored to “death” of celebs’ cause-related (not to mention commercial) marketing on social media? Stay tuned.