Photos of a pantyless, glassy-eyed Britney Spears may prove "Toxic" to sales of her perfumes, albums and DVDs ... or they could make her business even "Stronger."
Family values advocates, business experts and Hollywood gossip gurus alike have been speculating on the impact, if any, that the bare-under-there shots will have on the Britney empire, especially among her younger fans.
Charmaine Yoest, communications vice president for the conservative Family Research Council think tank and the mother of five children, said that if her kids asked for Spears' fragrances, Curious and Fantasy, or a Britney album or DVD, she'd tell them, "You've got to be kidding!"
"We're not going to buy products from people who have such a flagrant disregard for moral values and who show no concern for their role as models for young people," Yoest said. "It's absolutely going to hurt her sales. She's really gone too far over the boundaries of good taste."
Yoest said her 13-year-old daughter "is not interested in Britney anymore, or Lindsay Lohan either."
Lohan has also been photographed in the past wearing nothing underneath.
"My daughter just looks at Britney and Lindsay and goes 'Ick,'" said Yoest. "I think these pop stars underestimate how smart young girls are."
Department stores like Macy's, which sells the Britney Spears Beauty fragrances Curious and Fantasy, won't reveal sales figures for any of their products — including those for the pop tart's perfumes in the wake of the commando scandal.
But Lea Goldman, an associate editor at Forbes magazine, said the fragrances could take a hit.
"It's conceivable that it might hurt sales of her perfume, especially because of the timing of this since we're going into the holiday season," she said
"You have mothers going in to buy stocking stuffers and presents for their daughters, and they certainly don't want their daughters projecting that image. This isn't something they want to glorify."
The Spears fragrances have done very well in the past. When the first one, Curious, came out in September 2004, it broke licenser Elizabeth Arden's record for first-week gross for a perfume and went on to become the No. 1 fragrance in department stores that year.
"It's a super successful perfume for her," Goldman said. "This is not the first scandal that has plagued her. The perfume was still selling when she nearly dropped her son, when she married Kevin Federline. It will be interesting to see how it will perform for her in the coming months."
Pop culture expert Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University, thinks the racy photos could actually help pique interest in Spears' scents, since sex is often used to sell fragrances anyway.
"The no-underwear thing might add more equity to the perfume than before," he said.
US Weekly senior editor Albert Lee believes Brit could feel the fallout from companies looking for celebrities to market their products.
"It's going to hurt her potential for endorsement deals," he said. "People aren't going to want to hire her. She's also harmed herself in the sense of getting business with high-fashion lines. Britney Spears has not been able to get past this perception of being white trash."
The singer has reportedly been planning a comeback since the birth of her second baby in two years and the recent breakup of her marriage to Federline. Part of that is a new album rumored to be in the works.
But most insiders agree that it's unlikely Britney's recent exposure will damage record or concert ticket sales — partly because the forthcoming tour and album probably won't happen for a while.
"As long as people are interested in Britney Spears, it's going to make them stop and pick [her products] off the shelf," Lee said. "The celebrity world is like politics: A month is like a lifetime. A month from now, Britney Spears could be on top of the world. Or she could be back in K-Fed land."
Goldman doesn't predict a dip in album revenues, either — past or future — as a result of Spears' nights without drawers, and she thinks it could help her re-entry into the music business.
"In terms of her comeback, it enhances the buzz around her: Will she pull it off?" Goldman said. "I don't think it's going to hurt album sales."
Lee said "the whole K-Fed saga" — Spears' much publicized, much ridiculed marriage to her former backup dancer — as well as other antics captured on film, like driving with her toddler son Sean Preston on her lap instead of in his car seat, going to a gas-station bathroom barefoot and losing a false eyelash in a tearful, disheveled interview with Matt Lauer, have already made a mockery of Britney.
"I don't think this is going to hurt her in the long run," he said. "Any damage that she could have done to her business, career or image has already been done."
And who knows? Spears' pants-dropping photo op could have been a calculated and possibly savvy business move.
"There's definitely a curiosity about what she'll do next," said Goldman. "She's the underdog right now, so she does have a lot of people pulling for her.
"Britney has no album, no career for the last two-and-a-half years and a failed marriage, and suddenly she's the talk of the town. It might be strategy. I wouldn’t put it past her."