Still A Dumb Trend: Pop Star Endorsements Pretending To Be 'Creative Directors'

from the how-often-will-she-be-at-the-office dept

Almost exactly two years ago, we mocked the ridiculous trend of big companies hiring famous pop stars as “creative directors.” Polaroid had hired Lady Gaga to be “creative director” while Intel had named Will.i.am as “director of creative innovation.” The latest example of this trend is Blackberry (they’re no longer RIM!) announcing that known iPhone user Alicia Keys has been “hired” as “Global Creative Director.” She claimed that she’ll be working with app developers and providing various ideas.

As we said two years ago, it is a good thing that celebrity endorsers actually become more involved with the products they’re endorsing, but it’s somewhat insulting to suggest that these pop stars are actually being hired on as “creative directors.” In fact, it’s insulting to actual creative directors and the amazing work that they do on a daily basis. The value from a Lady Gaga, Will.i.am or Alicia Keys is in the publicity they bring, not in any sort of creative direction they provide (if any). It’s also insulting to the intelligence of the public and the press who follow these things. If these were, say, music services, the position might be real, but in the three most high profile cases, it seems abundantly clear that this is just a way to make an endorsement seem like a bigger deal than it really is.

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Companies: blackberry

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Comments on “Still A Dumb Trend: Pop Star Endorsements Pretending To Be 'Creative Directors'”

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19 Comments
Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

but trent reznor as creative director of DAISY is genius?

Two points on that.

1. I said in the post above that it makes sense when you’re talking about someone who’s actually in the business.

2. I know for a fact that he’s actually working on that project, not just a figurehead to strut out at conferences.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

People, at least most people, probably don’t buy a product primarily for its design but for its function. If people are not buying your product, thinking that it is because of superficial things like design is just digging the hole deeper. You should be looking at what function that your product lacks that is causing people not to buy it.

Function is more important than form. Specifications on many products are displayed prominantly, and for a reason. Because people compare them.

If it doesn’t function, then form is irrelevant. It’s a piece of non-functional art that should be on display somewhere rather than for retail sale.

People aren’t walking (or running) away from Windows Phone 8 and Surface Tablets because of their design. (Well, maybe.) But because of some functional issue. One that I would call “compatibility”. Something Blackberry has moved to address, by repackaging Android apps. But something that Microsoft is now ironically on the other side of, being the one who, if they follow Blackberry’s lead, will be trying to adapt applications from the majority platform to work on their minority-platform device.

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t know if it is even CwC (Connecting with celebrities). They are just connecting with one.

They would probably be better off getting every star that is going to be at the Oscars?? on a free unlimited for 5 years plan and a free phone every year,”we’ll transfer all your information for you” deal.

All those celebs show up with with their phones and the stores will be packed on Monday.

DannyB (profile) says:

Insulting indeed

It is not only insulting to the creative directors, in a technology company it is insulting to the actual worker bees who are the ones who actually design and implement the products the company sells.

Imagine Intel for example. They are in the semiconductor business. While designing a bigger better faster or lower power processor requires talent, human ingenuity, creativity and resourcefulness, these celebrity “creative directors” know nothing about logic gates, transistor counts, heat dissipation, processor architecture, instruction sets, or semiconductor fabrication.

At a software company, these celebrities couldn’t program their way out of a paper bag.

At a mobile device company (eg Blackberry, Apple, Samsung etc) what do these people contribute? They don’t know anything about designing the frame and exterior of a phone. That is as much engineering as it is design. (Can you Apple users say “antennagate” and “we must have a pretty metal back!”)

At a software company I worked at about 24 years ago we had a talented person who designed fantastic and award winning (but also expensive, wasteful and excessive) packaging for our software products. This person got their fingers into meetings to design some of the user interface for the next generation of software and was way out of his/her depth. S/he could design nice looking layouts of controls, but wanted to dictate what and how many buttons there were, etc. When questioned about what the buttons did, it all fell apart. At point button A did this, but at a later point it did that. The problem is it had to do more than look nice. It had to work. It also had to make sense. This person didn’t know anything about UI design, had not read any of the then contemporary material, and actually had no formal training for what s/he did, etc. The devs all rebelled to management and got to build a working design using his/her ideas to make things look good and everyone was happy. I’m sure in the days of web based design that other teams have had similar battles. But when I was a lot younger this was an eye opener for me interacting with non geeks as the company grew and was acquired.

So depending on just how these “creative directors” participate, if at all, they may be more detrimental than good to the company. But your “insulting” point is also very true.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Is this really much different?

It’s all just show biz, isn’t it?

Guy Who ‘Hates To Be A Curmudgeon’ Explains Why Yahoo Buying A 17-Year-Old’s Startup For $30 Million Makes No Sense – Business Insider: “D’Aloisio is a hustler. His investor list includes Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter, Automattic’s Matt Mullenweg, Ashton Kutcher, Wendy Murdoch, and Yoko Ono.

“It’s possible that, in addition to wanting D’Aloisio’s hustle and teenage, One Direction-y good looks for a marketing spokesperson position, Yahoo wanted to make all those big names in California happy.”

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