Miley Cyrus re-brands herself with raunchy VMA shocker: A success or major fail?

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Singer Miley Cyrus performs "We Can't Stop" during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards in New York
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Singer Miley Cyrus performs "We Can't Stop" during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards in New York August …

By Tony Maglio

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Miley Cyrus knows what she's doing - but that doesn't mean you have to like her, because she probably doesn't care. At least, she's pretending not to.

So says Linda Ong, president and brand strategist at TruthCo., a Brooklyn-based company that specializes in creating brands with cultural impact. The firm has worked with networks such as MTV (though not on the Video Music Awards), A&E, ABC and The CW, among others.

Ong is surprised at the shock created by Cyrus' twerk-heavy, racy VMAs performance on Sunday.

"All that she did was cement the direction that she's been taking post 'Hannah Montana,'" Ong told TheWrap. "Nothing that she did at the VMAs was off-brand for her ... just louder."

Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Reputation.com, took it one step further, telling TheWrap, "Clearly 'Hanna Montana' died Sunday night on the stage at the VMAs - or she was murdered."

Bragman added that Cyrus' second message was simply, "I'm growing up with you."

Message received.

Ong insisted her performance was far more well thought-out and planned than many people would assume. The former child star certainly seemed pleased to have gotten so many tongues wagging with her performance, approvingly noting how many tweets it inspired.

"Smilers! My VMA performance had 306.000 tweets per minute. That's more than the blackout or Superbowl! #fact.," Cyrus tweeted on Monday afternoon.

Bragman compared Cyrus' suggestive performance to Madonna's past eyebrow raisers, which helped propel her career.

"Controversy works, particularly in music," he said.

So what does Cyrus have to do to complete this marketing transition? It's not clear what her long term goals are, and they are the most important piece to the puzzle, Ong said.

Her reps did not respond to TheWrap's request for comment.

At this point, no one is confusing the current incarnation of Miley Cyrus with the one from her "Hannah Montana" days. So, mission clearly accomplished in that regard.

And despite the backlash over Cyrus backing her thang up in Robin Thicke's crotch, slapping another woman's butt onstage or twerking with children's stuffed animals, brand experts say there are likely no regrets from Miley's end.

"No female performing artist ever lost her career for being too sexy," Bragman said, "and no male one either for that matter."

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