Usher, Hilary Duff, Elvis Presley and KISS are among the celebrities who have branded credit cards. Hilary's is a prepaid Visa gift card, said to help teach tweens about managing money. When you use Elvis' Platinum Plus Visa card, a percentage goes to a charity benefiting homeless families. But seriously, why does anyone need an Elvis Visa card? Or an Usher Debit MasterCard? Jack Trout, president of marketing firm Jack Trout & Partners, says, "It's branding gone nutty. Most people know it's just a hustle. I don't see a lot of mileage in them." And yet... They exist! "Usher looks great in everyone's wallet," claims the SunTrust site. And uh, aren't we maybe headed into a recession? To make matters worse, kids as young as 17 months old are being turned into consumers.
According to author Susan Gregory Thomas, whose new book is titled Buy Buy Baby, young children are learning how to recognize the main character of TV shows at a very young age, preparing them to yearn for all the toys and products being sold with that character's face on them.
These characters are brands, so what we have is the creation of the very youngest consumers in the history of the United States. That's the thesis of the book. Under the auspices of education value and development, there is a very broadly gauged marketing effort being leveled at infants and toddlers.
The kids turn into tweens who want branded stuff, and the tweens turn into adults. Sid Kaufman, evp-licensing at Signatures Network, has many rock bands on his roster. He claims that stars "want to look for myriad ways to expand the fan experience and generate incomes for themselves." He's not sure about the credit cards, but he does think that musicians should try the fast-growing luxury market instead: like a Beatles $500 cashmere hoodie. WTF? A concert tee is one thing, but a cashmere hoodie? Are you really a more dedicated fan if you have credit cards and luxury goods branded with your favorite artist? And who is worse? The marketing "geniuses" who come up with this crap, the artists who allow their image to be associated with it, or the
fools fans who buy into it?
Celebs Extending Their Brand Names to Credit Cards [Brandweek]
On Turning Kids Into Shoppers [US News & World Report]
Related: Usher Makes Our Teeth Ache [Idolator]