Love him, or loathe him, you can't deny the impact and success of David Bowie and his ability to market and self-promote his ever-changing styles lay at the heart of that success.
From his beginnings as Ziggy Stardust, his performance at Live Aid in 1985 and through to his latest, and last, album Blackstar, it was Bowie's personality and personas that were the focus of his PR image. He didn't simply influence hundreds, if not thousands, of bands and artists during his five decades in the music industry, his vision and ability to push boundaries and encourage people to express themselves creatively also had a huge impact on PR and marketing campaigns around the world.
Ziggy Stardust, with his heavy makeup and caricature like appearance, shocked people the world over in the early 1970s, but it was a lightbulb moment for creative agencies and encouraged them to brand and market companies in new ways that had been considered taboo in the years previous. David Bowie employed brilliant guerrilla marketing tactics when he released this last two albums unexpectedly, which created a real stir. Bowie had a desire to not only change with the times but to lead the changes and this led him to be a master of rebrand and promotion. Despite shying away from the spotlight in his later years, he always promoted new material in such style you couldn't ignore it. His biggest and most successful promotional tool was himself. Of course, his back catalogue of music and experience helped, but he always had his finger on the pulse of change.
It is this chameleon like changing that allowed Bowie to straddle genres and meant he didn't have to please just one part of the market, he worked in every culture from glam rock to film and successfully promoted himself across the board.
This one man band was what PR and marketing dreams are made of and he leaves a lot of important lessons for those of us in the creative industries, as well as a huge hole in the global music industry. Rest in peace and thanks for everything David, we'll miss you.