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Is Miley the new Britney--or the other way around?

Miley Cyrus

August 18, 2009

I assume you're referring at least partly to Miley Cyrus' stripper-pole action at the Teen Choice Awards? Which hearkened vaguely to Britney Spears' stripper-pole action in...well, where do I start? Full disclosure: I could not look directly at the Miley stripper-pole performance for fear of turning to stone, but descriptions from reliable sources indicate that stripper-pole interaction did occur.

Where are these comparisons coming from? Mostly Miley, it seems. But does all this necessarily mean Cyrus is doomed to a future of albino snakes and barefoot trips to the Porta Potti? Well...

Let's take a look at the similarities.

Both have dads who live quite well thanks to their daughters' massive bank accounts and tiny wardrobes. Both performers have strategically tapped into their sweet polka-dotted Southern roots as a way to sell themselves to mainstream audiences. Both have toyed with Lolita-like sexuality, though Britney took credit and responsibility for it, while Miley distanced herself after the fact.

Both have sprouted fully formed out of heads of Disney executives—Spears through the new Mickey Mouse Club and Cyrus via Hannah Montana.

But that may be where the similarities end. In fact, marketing and teen trending experts tell me that by comparing the 16-year-old Cyrus to the 27-year-old Spears, you may actually be levying an insult. At Miley.

"Unlike Britney, Miley Cyrus has a beloved character to fall back on—Hannah Montana," says Megan Bannon, cultural anthropologist at market research agency Rapp Collins Worldwide. "When we analyzed over 6,500 online social mentions of Miley Cyrus posted in the last month, we see that she is very closely associated with Hannah Montana."

In a good way.

According to a popularity measuring tool called the Davie Brown Index (DBI), "Miley is viewed as significantly more trustworthy than Britney within the general population," Davie Brown's Matt Delzell tells me. "I think that speaks highly of Miley, considering Britney is older and is a mother, both factors which tend to increase trust levels."

Plus, Britney was essentially just getting started when she was in her teens. Miley?

"Cyrus, with her music and TV shows and movies, is something Britney Spears never was at that stage of her career: a multimedia superstar with a multigenerational appeal," says branding pro Don Tanner, author of No Static at All.

So the real question is, even though she's a decade older, can Britney ever dream of being the next Miley Cyrus?

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Copyright © 2009 Davie Brown Entertainment

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