Here is a public relations tip for brands that hire celebrities as “creative directors”:
The American public is just beginning to shake the awfulness of a recession that landed many talented and ambitious souls in the unemployment line; millions still yearn for jobs worthy of their hard work and skills.
So when your company decides to invent a job and then fill it with someone who doesn’t even need a job, you’re telling the public “We don’t understand you at all.”
We were surprised when Justin Timberlake accepted a role as Bud Light’s creative director to help the brand “… define Bud Light Platinum’s identity in the lifestyle space.” We like Mr. Timberlake. Though a huge celebrity, he seems like the kind of guy who would help you clean up after a party and crash on your couch.
He’s a regular on Saturday Night Live; he clearly has a sense of humor and a healthy sense of self-awareness. But now he joins the ranks of “people with ridiculous amounts of money who apparently need more money” that includes Alicia Keys (creative director for BlackBerry), Lady Gaga (creative director for Polaroid), and will.i.am (creative director for Intel).
What’s going on? What happened to brands hiring celebrities to appear in commercials and then calling it a day?
Does giving them a job title make it seem as if the relationship is somehow stronger or more credible? It doesn’t. To the public, these types of arrangements appear disingenuous and manipulative.
Just how much does Mr. Timberlake make as a creative director and what, exactly, does the “lifestyle space” for a Bud Light drinker look like? We’re guessing it includes a pool table and baseball trophies from high school. You know, the kind of regular guy who lost, or knows someone who lost their job in the past four years.
As capitalists we don’t blame Bud Light and Mr. Timberlake for profiting from our culture’s obsession with celebrity. They worked hard to build something of value. Good for them.
But we’re guessing most Bud Light drinkers would rather the brand give their hard up neighbor a job.