Major buzz from Bieber

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 24, 2013

The N.C. Transportation Museum needed a shot of positive publicity, and it could hardly have scripted a better spot than pop star Justin Bieber picking the Spencer attraction for a teen magazine photo shoot last weekend.
Just as actor George Clooney sent a charge through locals of, shall we say, a more “mature” age when he used the museum to film parts of the movie “Leatherheads,” Bieber’s visit to the museum and a stop at a local Waffle House electrified the younger set and had social media sites buzzing with the news. The 18-year-old performer is, after all, perhaps the most recognizable young heartthrob on the planet and the most popular person on Twitter, with 33.3 million followers. Top that, Lady Gaga.
In addition to giving Salisbury a brush with a younger generation of celebrityhood, his visit also casts an intriguing new light on an issue that recently inspired vigorous debate in our fair city — i.e., what kind of wee-hours clientele Waffle House attracts. Let’s just say there’s nothing scary about the Biebster and leave it at that.
Because of Bieber’s huge popularity, the N.C. Transportation Museum has gained some valuable new exposure. Given recent funding cuts, the museum can certainly use it. While the $1,500 in fees to the museum and its foundation won’t go far toward offsetting the loss of $700.000 in its state allocation, there’s a bigger potential payoff here. The photo shoot was for “Teen Vogue,” which has a circulation of about 1 million. The bulk of that readership is squarely in the bullseye of a youth demographic that advertisers pay big bucks to reach. That doesn’t translate into a big boost in attendance, but it puts the museum’s photogenic possibilities in front of a lot of people who otherwise might remain unaware of the historic gem in Spencer.
Whether other photo ops will materialize as a result is anybody’s guess. But even a kiss-and-run visit from Bieber generates the kind of publicity that can set tourism development hearts to throbbing.