Celebrity branding has run amock. We’ve been saying this for a while, like when I wrote that post on brandcurve.com a while back. That’s not news, but if you haven’t quite realised the drama of the situation, perhaps take a look at this.
The reason why most of these products are shamefull is because they cross an undrawn line behind which the offending celeb has previous existed. Not that I enjoy putting people in boxes, but we have to take everything in context and realise the area and realm in which we know and admire the celebrity.
The biggest example is food. Unless the celebrity is a chef, or otherwise from the food+drink sector, he or she has not previously been positioned as having any expertise with food. Comedians, athletes, actors, and businessmen all have their arena, but the kitchen isn’t necesarrily one of them. Hulk Hogan isn’t usually associated with pasta. An energy drink is less bizarre because he does, after all, have energy. Also, energy drinks aren’t really food. I don’t mind Jeff Foxworthy’s face on a pack of beef jerky because while he may not be a chef (what is a jerky-maker called? Jerkysmith?), he fully embodies the “redneck” mystique and his brand has become so closely associated with low-brow americana.
Video games are also a stretch, especially when the celebrity has a game which isn’t exactly based on a story. If I said “a Shaquille O’Neal video game”, you’d probably think of basketball, but when you see a fighting game, confusion sets in. Michael Jackson had a popular game, Moonwalker, made in his name, but that was based on his movie (which was based on his album), not simply conjured out of his “brand”. Actually, it kinda was. Ok, so there is an exception.
I think we can all appreciate the irony of MJ endorsing a brand of chocolate, considering he is slowly leaving his “chocolate” roots in the dust in favour of becoming a white woman. I hope that it wasn’t dark chocolate.
The moral of this story is old: stay true to your brand values, and don’t extend to where you have no relevance.