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Dumb Trends: Tech Companies Hiring Pop Stars As 'Creative Directors'

from the is-intel-the-new-polaroid dept

Last year, at Midem, one of the keynote interviews was with Jeffrey Hayzlett, who at the time was the Chief Marketing Officer for Kodak. Towards the end of the talk, someone in the audience asked Hayzlett if he could explain the thinking behind the hiring of Lady Gaga to be "creative director." Hayzlett smiled and responded along the lines of "Well, actually, that wasn't Kodak, but our competitor, and just the fact that you're confused about that is pretty much all I have to say about the wisdom of that decision." Of course, it was Polaroid who had made that "hire." At CES a few weeks back, one year after this announced "hiring," Lady Gaga debuted the results of her "job" at Polaroid to mostly unimpressed reviews.

Meanwhile, over at the Intel booth, I saw Will.i.am (and an entourage of folks) walking around and checking out the displays. Knowing that folks like Lady Gaga and Will.i.am don't just show up at CES for fun, I just assumed that he had some sort of endorsement deal with Intel. Now, comes the news that he's signed a similar "director of creative innovation" deal with Intel.

Now, to be clear, various reports claim that Lady Gaga was and has been actually involved in product design efforts. And, as an endorsement deal, there's something quite nice about that aspect to it. After all, lots of celebrities sign endorsement deals for products they don't even use or care about, let alone have at least some say in designing. But, does having a celebrity, who doesn't actually have any experience or knowledge about the specific business you're in, as a "creative director" really make sense? The Polaroid products announced by Lady Gaga at CES seemed sort of pointless -- sunglasses that take photos, a paperback book sized "portable printer" for photos (I've had a smaller portable printer in my bag for years, and only recently stopped carrying it around when I realized I never use it any more).

On top of that, the idea that these celebrities have "jobs" as "creative directors" is just silly. They're not creative directors at all, and it's actually something of an insult to people who actually do have jobs as creative directors. They're celebrity endorsers who are also advising on product ideas -- at best. I like the idea of celebrities actually being more involved with the products they endorse, but pretending they have a real "job" at these companies really just insults the intelligence of people.

Oh, and, did anyone notice that, in the photo of Will.i.am showing off his "Intel badge," it looks like he's wearing the "Polaroid sunglasses" that Gaga revealed at CES? Maybe they have some sort of "mutual celebrity fake creative director appreciation society" thing going on between them.


"But do HIS glasses take pics and have screens built in...?" -- caption and photoshop thanks to Notcot


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    This actually a perfect example of "innovation", techdirt style. It isn't about making new products, it's about changing the paint color or, in this case, getting the right name attached to the product. Rather than creating a new sort of product that people will be interested in, let's just cobble together other things we already have (in the case of Poloroid) and slap Lady Gaga's name on it. That will be innovative for sure!

    Meanwhile, millions that would be spent on developing something new instead are spent on getting the right badge and logo designed for old crap with a new celeb wrapper.

    Innovation at it's finest. Thanks Mike Masnick! You have inspired a generation!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    iamtheky (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

    Intel - "Our rock stars are....the exact same people as your rock stars"

    They should have swapped and let Ajay Bhatt do some frontman work for the Black Eyed Peas.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    Re:

    [Citation Needed], as always.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:20pm

    Re:

    "They should have swapped and let Ajay Bhatt do some frontman work for the Black Eyed Peas."

    No, they should have done the smart thing and hired T.Pain.

    "It ain't hardcore, unless it's HEXAcore. Mega-gigabytes, SON! Everything in the computer, needs mah face on it. T.Pain, holla at yo boy."

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

    Re:

    AaaaaaaarrghAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!! Techdirt has only ever said to make real innovation.no one here has ever said to ripoff stupid products like these ,color 'em different and endorse them. Mike doesn't even like endorsement that much. I'm registering soon, I hope you do the same so we can finish this properly.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re:

    Mike is all for innovation. Anything is innovation. He says that patents and copyright stop innovation, that innovation is any even marginal small improvment. Clearly, putting Lady Gaga's name on a bunch of recycled ideas is exactly what innovation is all about. Glasses with a camera? Oh my, what a great innovation.

    Get the label right, and it's innovative as all get out.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    hank, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    I have noticed in the past some record companies have made musicians "president" of the company, consider that in most states "presidents" of companies are corporate officers, with certain liabilities and accountability -- most presidents of multi-million dollar corporations spend their time working on complex multinational finance deals like structuring debt loads and projecting delayed accounts receivable, setting up complex credit lines with international banks, not doing rap albums and throwing parties. Do the boards and the shareholders want 50cent or lady gaga responsible at this level of governance?

     

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  8.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re:

    After saying (spraying) that you need to wipe off your keyboard.

     

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  9.  
    icon
    m3mnoch (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Re:

    heh. you must have missed mike's earlier post today about cargo cults.

    lemme help.
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110125/15591312819/cargo-cults-kevin-smith-difference-betw een-connecting-going-through-motions.shtml

    m3mnoch.

     

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  10.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    Lady Gaga designing?

    Polaroid realizes that people's interest in Gaga's work is only for morbid fascination or for something to laugh at .. right? People wouldn't exactly go out and buy her designs in masses. They see that, right?
    Or is Polaroid's goal just now going to aim at a tiny corner of the overall market? (some people would want all of the clothes she has designed, but it can't be that many)

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Jake, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    Depending on the pop star, this isn't necessarily a bad idea. After all, as Techdirt has devoted many column inches to pointing out, it's not enough to create really good art these days if you want to make it a career; you also have to be a pretty shrewd businessman.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re:

    Musicians need to make a living. If you don't want to purchase their music, then you'd better prepare yourself for a lot of this and other gross commercial endeavors.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Oh look, you're again just making stuff up.

     

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  14.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    True, but this doesn't mean Lady Gaga or Arnold Schwarzenegger are great or shrewd business people.

    Have you SEEN Lady Gaga's dresses? Weird isn't the beginning of the term I would use.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Sunglasses that take photos (but hopefully videos) is actually a fantastic idea. As someone who primarily commutes by bike/walking, I would really like to just "blink" during certain moments and have a picture of what I am already looking at (rather than constantly having to film/edit real-time.

    But otherwise celebrities do nothing for me and are actually turn-offs for most products I use. Those more marketing a product gets is the more expensive (wasteful) the product is as a result.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Chas Edwards, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 1:12pm

    Intel and Will.i.am

    Mike--

    I suspect you are right: This Intel / Will.i.am partnership isn't going to drive product innovation. But underneath it all, that's OK with Intel. The announcement came from Deb Conrad, head of Americas marketing -- not the head of product or technology.

    The question I'm curious about, Is it a good marketing investment for Intel. I suspect it is.

     

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  17.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 1:18pm

    Things that make you go ... OMFG what were they thinking

    Britney Spears as a creative director .... shiver

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    IronM@sk, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Things that make you go ... OMFG what were they thinking

    Innovation would proceed unrestrained!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 1:56pm

    Re:

    Not a bad idea for the entertainer? (I don't consider these people musicians or even artists).

    It seems it could really backfire. I'm not a fan of either of these people. I can ignore it if they endorse products but making them creative directors really makes me suspicious about the products these companies will create - even if they aren't doing anything but selling their name as they would if they merely endorsed these companies.

    To me it's like hiring Eddie Griffin to design cars. I don't want a car designed by him. Now if he makes a commercial and says that this is the best car he's ever crashed that cost less than 7 figures I might be inclined to pay attention.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Kyler, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 1:56pm

    I can see the logic the companies have used in these situations. pop stars are usually trendsetters on the leading edge of fashion and technology for one reason or another, so to the companies it makes sense to hire these pop stars to drive their product lines.

    the problem is that the pop stars dont actually have any idea of what they are doing, they just wear or use what they are given by the real geniuses (the actual clothing designers, etc) and thats where the companies should be turning for "creative directors".

    FWIW, GM has done something similar with their cars for the past few years, but they actually hired people who knew what they were doing (car review writers from THE big name car magazines) and look how well it's turned out for GM.
    http://www.autoblog.com/2011/01/25/how-bob-lutz-made-four-auto-journalists-his-secret-weapons-a t/

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    when consumers don't purchase their music, they have the RIAA to step in and sue users for P2P violations.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nope, sorry:

    http://www.techdirt.com/blog/itinnovation/articles/20100419/0049489071.shtml

    http://www .techdirt.com/articles/20091208/1545217254.shtml

    Both clearly indicating that imitation or even minor advances are "innovation", techdirt style.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Copyright and patents HINDER innovation, not stop it.

    Quit putting words in peoples mouths.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    TDR, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 4:47pm

    What kind of a name is Lady Gaga, anyway? What, is she trying to be a cover girl for Pampers or something? :p

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 4:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ummm aside from you, who said that in this thread?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 5:27pm

    Re:

    The Volt is the only concrete example of what it did for them given.

    It sounds like the program was a failure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 7:16pm

    "Tech Companies Hiring Pop Stars As 'Creative Directors'"

    Next thing you know pop stars will be hiring tech companies as actors.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Why limit the discussion to this thread?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Bloomman (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 8:13pm

    Sarcasm aside

    I have to admit, this is quite literally a monetization of their music. Whether a t-shirt or a head mounted display, for the purchaser, it's an opportunity to connect with the artist and in that same light, an opportunity for the artist to Connect with Fans. Don't hate Mike!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Bhaktha Keshavachar, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 12:16am

    Intel is NOT a product company

    Just in case folks have forgotten, Intel all things said and done, is still a semiconductor component manufacturing company. They do own to a large extent the PC platform, but the end products are never supplied by Intel to the customer. This is the reason why this news is so confusing ...

    BTW the above, is also the reason for the conception of the "Intel Inside" program, to get mindshare and build brand value from end customers. As Intel is losing its Mojo (the mindshare is all now on the smartphone, tablet market where Intel's share is zero) Intel must be hard at work (desperate ?) to inject some pizzazz into its now staid market.

    Cheers,
    -Bhaktha

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    techinabox (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 1:15am

    Not Always Dumb

    I think this dumb only part of the time.I really can't think of anything that Will.i.am would do for Intel aside from being a spokesperson. Same with Polaroid but at least she was involved to some degree in the stylistic aspect. On the other hand I can think of at least two instances where entertainers did more than that.

    The first is 50 Cent and his headphones by Sleek. Apparently 50 joined the company with a desire to make nice headphones and invested some of his own money and a bunch of his time. At CES when they were announced Sleek reps said 50 spent a good deal of time with the design team and QA team testing the sound. Say what you will about his music but 50 most certainly has an ear for sound.
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/06/sleek-by-50-cent-platinum-headphones-announced-invites-be ats-to/

    The second would be the Marley families decisions to put out a line of sound products in the vein of what their Dad would like. While Bob wasn't involved (obviously), his children representing his ideas were, and they made a splash at CES by showing off the line of products made from recycled materials with biodegradable packaging.
    http://www.cultofmac.com/hemp-used-in-bob-marley-headphones-earbuds-ces-2011/75566

    No w neither of these situations were simply hiring stars to be Creative Directors they both involve entertainers getting involved in developing some nice products. I could totally see Panasonic or Canon hiring a famous director or filmmaker known for doing this unconventional with cameras to help them design a quality camcorder or a car company hiring a NASCAR driver to help with a performance car. So while I think randomly hiring a celebrity is dumb I think hiring obviously creative people to do things in a field they have some knowledge of is actually a pretty good idea.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Some of my best friends are Anonymous Cowards, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 5:00am

    Re:

    Heh... Someone has finished trying to suck their own dick and is back on the Internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 5:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nope, sorry:

    http://www.techdirt.com/blog/itinnovation/articles/20100419/0049489071.shtml

    http://www .techdirt.com/articles/20091208/1545217254.shtml

    Both clearly indicating that imitation or even minor advances are "innovation", techdirt style.


    Next time try actually reading the links you point to. Neither of those say what you claim.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    jsf (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 7:26am

    Infatuation

    It comes down to the same reason the tech companies have kowtowed to the music and movie industries. For some weird reason the people making the decisions are infatuated by music and movie stars, and think it is cool to associate with them. Government has done the same thing lately.

    So it's a case of selling out in hopes of being seen as being cool. Just plain stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm sorry; I'm not familiar with a P2P violation. What exactly is that? When exactly did they pass the "All your P2P Are Belong to Evil" bill?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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