Congratulations to Lady Gaga, just named Forbes’ most powerful celebrity of 2011. She unseats Oprah Winfrey for only the third time in the past several years. While Oprah’s cash haul ($290 million) was substantially greater than our Lady Gaga’s ($90 million), Forbes uses a variety of measures to rank their list. The factors include (with Lady Gaga’s rank):
- Dollars earned (8th)
- Presence on TV and radio (3rd)
- Press coverage (2nd)
- Web presence (1st)
- Social media presence (1st)
As the makers of the list observe, the #1 celebrity truly understands the power of online tools, which are critical to success in a rapidly changing market of short attention spans.
[Lady] Gaga is there not just because of the $90 million she earned with a monster tour, but also because of her 32 million Facebook fans and 10 million Twitter followers–aka Little Monsters–who helped move 1 million digital downloads of her recent single “Born This Way” in only five days. They’re also happy to buy the MAC makeup, Monster headphones and Virgin Mobile phones she features in her videos.
As regular readers of TSM will understand, we are thrilled to see a celebrity who regularly practices integrity and promotes equality achieve such success and authority. Comparing Lady Gaga’s stand against Target with Oprah’s celebration of Wal-Mart makes this year’s result particularly cheering. The majority of the Top 10 list are celebrities who have done little beyond increase their own wealth and power in the past year (with the exception of serial do-gooders U2 and the very mixed bag of Sir Elton John, champion of AIDS research and Rush Limbaugh crooner). In that context, Lady Gaga’s position is very heartening indeed. Let’s hope that Target is kicking itself for losing a lucrative, powerful partner while standing by its homophobia.