No matter how you feel about the YouTube-launched sixteen-year-old pop sensation Justin Bieber (and if you're older than 30, we can probably guess your feelings on the subject), there's no denying that he's an entertainment industry juggernaut. Why, just this week comes news of not one, but two major deals.
First HarperCollins (NWS) Children's imprint HarperFestival announced that Bieber's illustrated memoir will be published in October. Meanwhile, a film about Bieber's life so far -- in 3-D, no less! -- is going to be released by Paramount (CBS) next Valentine's Day.
Following the long line of teen heartthrobs that include the likes of Fabian, Donovan, Rick Springfield and, more recently, Zac Efron, Bieber is the perfect social-media-age icon. He uses tech tools to keep his name on the lips and laptops of his millions of fans. And some of the new media stats surrounding the Canadian Bieber are truly staggering: 8 million Twitter followers (he also follows 70,000 people, according to Billboard); 270 million YouTube views of his music video "Baby;" more than 1 million copies of his chart-topping debut album "My World" sold since March, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
Bieber's Product-Moving Might
All of this and more helps the hit-maker move other people's product. Bieber's April guest-hosting stint on Saturday Night Live propelled the variety show to its third-highest ratings of the season (an appearance by 88-year-old Betty White is tops.) Chicago White Sox director of communications Scott Reifert pointed to "the Bieber effect" increasing ticket sales after the teen idol threw out the first pitch for a baseball game. It doesn't hurt that Bieber's proven he can poke fun at himself in a series of videos on the comedy website Funny or Die.
Like most teen idols, Bieber's fame will eventually cool. But when the flame is as white hot as it currently is, it's no surprise so many companies are looking to cash in on his success. HarperCollins, in particular, is in position to do incredibly well, as the sales potential for Bieber's book -- not to mention a new effort by Sarah Palin -- ought to buttress the company's fall list. Paramount's already had an excellent 2010, being the first studio to hit $1 billion in domestic box office grosses, but landing the Bieber biopic on its 2011 slate should help them reach the $1 billion mark even earlier next year.
The bottom line of the Bieber phenomenon is that this boy's a cash cow, ready and willing to be milked. And he'll remain the most popular new kid on the block until the next hottest star comes along -- be it from the Internet or beyond.
The Justin Bieber Effect Reaches Books and Film