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Janet Jackson’s comeback suggests absence is PR best practice

Janet album cover (Deluxe edition)

Janet album cover (Deluxe edition)

Janet Jackson is one of the world’s most celebrated icons; however, she has yet to recover from the music industry’s most confusing PR debacle. In 2004, there were few artists bigger than Janet Jackson other than her brother, Michael, not even her co-conspirator in the 2004 XXXVIII Superbowl “NipSlip” debacle, Justin Timberlake. Janet was the headliner for the event with Justin playing a close second, yet, after her nipple was exposed, the dust settled and right-wingers started vying for blood, Timberlake was nowhere to be found. The smear campaign suspiciously excluded the NFL (an organization that is very particular about its performances) and Timberlake. His career remained pristinely unscathed and he went on to become an even bigger triple threat with more movies and music. Janet tried several attempts at reviving her career, including a failed attempt at a world tour, but eventually she gave up and left the business and subsequently the United States.

After a seven-year hiatus, Janet seems to have returned to a pop world primed to embrace her as if it wished she’d never left. The venues are selling out and her single featuring J. Cole debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100. For her to go from ice cold to scorching hot with little promotion and fanfare is enough to make one wonder if perhaps the seven-year hiatus acted as the best PR strategy to erase the past failures and “nipplegate” scandal. Perhaps the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” applies to public relations practice, as well.

Unlike some of her peers who have disappeared from music but are seen out and about with family and friends or even working in other facets of entertainment, Janet disappeared completely. The only information shared from her was that she did indeed marry her longtime boyfriend Wissam Al Mana in an intimate private ceremony in Saudi Arabia. The complete disappearance was baffling and left fans hungry for Janet sightings. Once a formal announcement was made that Janet was returning for a US tour, tickets were immediately hot items and some venues sold out in less than 24 hours.

Only time will tell what Janet will be able to do musically once her album drops this fall. With sold-out venues and positive reviews from music critics on her new music, it definitely sets the perfect stage for Janet to have a real shot to return to her rightful place in music royalty.