The cast list of characters in professor Anita Elberse’s class at Harvard Business School reads like the credits of a surreal reality television show. Jay-Z, LeBron James, Lady Gaga, and Maria Sharapova are all featured at one time or another. Elberse writes case studies on the rise, fall, and critical decision-making associated with some of the biggest names in media and entertainment, and her class, “Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries,” is one of the highest-rated among Harvard MBA students.
Elberse’s in-class guests have included Lady Gaga’s manager, Troy Carter, Walt Disney Chairman Alan Horn, and Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson. This summer she will start teaching a version of the course for executives visiting HBS’s campus, and by fall she expects to release a book that explores “why superstars are paid unimaginable sums” and why entertainment executives “spend outrageous amounts of money in search of the next blockbuster.”