Celebrity Pitchmen: From Endorsement Deals to Product Development

Going Gaga

Traditional marketing is no longer enough for recording artists to sell themselves. As record sales continue to decline drastically—from $14.6 billion in 1999 to $6.3 billion in 2009—musicians are beginning to look beyond record companies for the funds to finance the recording and marketing of a career’s worth of albums. Whether through gaining song placement in a film, getting a guest spot on Glee, creating a clothing line, or relentless touring and self-promotion through Twitter and Facebook, any artist hoping to stay successful must get creative about reinvigorating his or her personal brand.

Speaking of reinvigorating brands, Polaroid probably doesn’t scream cutting edge, especially since the company filed for bankruptcy twice during the last decade. That’s part of the reason why the brand found appeal in Lady Gaga, who recently surpassed Oprah as the most powerful person in the entertainment business, according to Forbes.

In January 2010, Gaga became Polaroid’s creative director “for a select set of co-branded Polaroid/Lady Gaga products,” said Hardy. Those products include the GL10 mobile printer, the GL20 picture-taking sunglasses (shown below right), and the GL30 camera/printer. He says that the company engaged the artist in every phase of the development cycle, from the initial conception of what the devices should look like to the industrial designs, finishes, and colors. Lady Gaga even weighed in on the feature set, helping decide which features were worth the cost.

According to Hardy, Lady Gaga “is very technical; she’s very capable and gives feedback on usability. There’s nothing about our relationship with Lady Gaga that isn’t completely genuine and real. That was important to us because the consumer today is very shrewd and knows when a company is just trying to do something that’s not exactly real. We feel like that’s not what we’re about as a brand and as a company and Lady Gaga is the same way.”

At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Lady Gaga debuted the Polaroid Grey Line. But it wasn’t just a photo op. She demoed the products for the press and explained the inspiration behind the sunglasses that can capture and display images. She also demonstrated the inkless ZINK Bluetooth instant printer. It was clear Lady Gaga was comfortable handling the products and explaining the technology behind them.

Hardy says the initial feedback from the product launch at CES was huge. “The results have been astounding. As we launched this new line, the number of impressions that we received as a company and as a brand far exceeded anything that we had ever attained previously with other product launches.”

Celebrity Pitchmen: From Endorsement Deals to Product Development

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