If you’re old enough to remember Dionne Warwick plugging the Psychic Friends Network or Eric Estrada hawking swampland retirement property in Florida, you know that the brand-endorsement business used to be the domain of C-list celebs, not A-listers at the height of their careers. Well, no longer. The proof: a 16-year-old Canadian kid named Justin something.
Currently at or near the apogee of his fame, Justin Bieber went on an endorsement tear late last year and has been slapping his name on everything from headphones to nail polish ever since. Hold on—nail polish?
“This stuff makes sense to his core audience, so there’s nothing completely off-brand for him,” says David Reeder, vp of L.A. talent agency GreenLight. “[And] the taboo’s been broken; celebrities are less concerned about doing commercials than they were in the past.”
OK, but given Bieber’s current worth of $100 million, it’s not like the kid needs the money. So why all the product endorsements now? Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, didn’t call us back, but some of the answer may lie in the singer’s Q Score—the standard numeric index of a celebrity’s popularity.
“What I suspect is that Justin may not have as long a potential as [some would] like,” says Q Score’s president Steve Levitt, citing Bieber’s positive Q of 36 percent with the 6-11 age bracket and, even worse, a mere 20 percent among 12-17-year-olds. That’s right, folks, more people loathe the cherub-faced mop top than like him. And for watchers like Levitt, that means one thing: “If you’re going to sell something, you’d better hurry up.”