You guys, things are bleak out there. As the AP points out, "Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism." So let's all distract ourselves for a minute and get drunk on the Diddy-approved Ciroc vodka! Because when you consume something branded by a celebrity, you can transcend the mundanity of your sad, barely-making-ends-meet life and, just for a minute, you can be Diddy. Or at least that's the idea of the avalanche of celebrity branding we're subjected to these days. On the front page of the NYT business section yesterday, Julie Creswell dissected this increasingly blurry line between celebrity and commerce. According to the Times, the average American sees 3,156 images a day, and a celebrity face helps the viewer become conscious of the product amidst the bombardment. But of all the celebrity endorsers these days, Rihanna takes the cake for the sheer number of companies to whom she is beholden.
In fact, Rihanna's celebrity was built on the backs of advertisers: before "Umbrella" hit airwaves, the people at Totes got their mitts on it. They had the foresight to realize that it was going to be a hit, but "Rihanna and her representatives wanted Totes to do more, however, than merely use her to peddle a product. They wanted Totes to create customized umbrellas featuring sparkly fabrics and glittery charms on the handles - all recommended by the emerging star and her team. Totes also guaranteed the singer a percentage of the sales of the umbrellas." But in addition to her deal with Totes, Rihanna has branding deals with CoverGirl, Nike, J. C. Penney, Nokia and Fuze. In fact, Rihanna has so many marketing deals, she and her handlers are holding back now that she's an honest-to-goodness celebrity.
But when every brand has a celebrity endorsing it, the famous faces can start to cancel each other out, especially since now advertisers are starting to reach down into the depths of dubious fame to push product. Case in point: this commercial with Lauren Conrad and Brody Jenner for the LG Shine cell phone. With Rihanna pushing Nokia, Justin Long shilling iPhones, and David Beckham hawking the RAZR, how can Brody and L.C.'s obscure ad hope to register with consumers? Well if ad exec Steve Stoute is correct, there's room in this country for celebrities of all stripes to whore out. Stoute mentions an SUV painted a particular shade of blue. "That's Jay-Z blue! We invented a color!" Stoute tells the Times. "There are no limits. There is no such thing as too far." Filthy lucre for all!