Jennifer Lopez’s partnership with Verizon Wireless to launch a new mobile brand targeting Latinos is a no-brainer when you consider the surging growth rates of those consumers in the U.S. and their high ownership of smartphones. But positioning the popular singer and actress with the brand was not as simple as it might seem.
In January Verizon enlisted marketing strategist Jeetendr Sehdev, who specializes in celebrity brand partnerships, to position the new Lopez brand, Viva Móvil, in which she is an investor and creative director. His first task, after conducting quantitative and qualitative research, was to identify how her celebrity and the brand aligned in consumer opinion before Viva Móvil was launched.
Interestingly, Sehdev found that Lopez’s success was interpreted differently, according to the degree of acculturation among Hispanic consumers. More assimilated Latinos admired her for her business acumen, those less-acculturated liked her for her rags-to-riches, ‘Jenny From The Block’ persona. An added benefit for Verizon in teaming up with Lopez is her crossover appeal to a more general audience.
“That’s hard to do, especially within Hollywood and mainstream media because you often get stereotyped and she’s been able to break free of that while still resonating with a Hispanic audience,” says Sehdev. “The way we positioned this is that this is more than a Verizon brand; Viva Móvil is a new brand built on upon Jennifer Lopez’s brand equity and identity, with Verizon in partnership. We are creating a celebratory brand shopping experience that like Zumba has an appeal as an across-the-board experience whether you’re Hispanic or not.”
Sehdev, who is the author of the upcoming book Superstar: The Art & Science of Celebrity Branding, oversaw a team that also came up with a retail strategy suited to the target demographic. Viva Móvil, which is opening its first retail store in New York on June 15, will employ bilingual employees and also have children’s play areas since Latinos like to shop together as families.
Lopez is the majority owner in Viva Móvil, which launched at the CTIA wireless industry trade show in Las Vegas this week.