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Celebrites Are Getting Behind Brands They Believe In... And If They're Smart, It Works.
Back in 1997, William Shatner agreed to be the face of Priceline, as the “Negotiator”, when it was just a baby endeavor. We all know the Negotiator. However, did you know William Shatner didn’t sign a contract agreeing to a paycheck? No, William Shatner agreed to do the Priceline spots in exchange for quite a bit of stock in the company - a decision that turned out very profitable for him.
In this blog, Hollywood Branded looks at top celebrity tech and app investments and how the investors affect the brands they become involved with.
Even Celebrities Know That Money Isn't Infinite
Long gone are the days when the likes of Jimi Hendrix signed away the rights to his songs for $1; the celebrities of the world, for the most part, have learned the danger in selling their personal brand for pennies. (Although access to each new Kardashian lifestyle app is only $2.99 a month!). And while not all celebrity investments or ownership ventures are successful, some shine through, and end up making the difference in a brand’s success, while also being a major success for the celebrity as well.
Low Key, But High-Tech: Start-Ups And Celebrity Investors
Many celebrity investors fly under the radar, especially investors in small technology companies or start ups. This could be intentional, since people in the tech industry as a general rule may not trust a Hollywood face to know anything about technology. However, many of these investments have become very lucrative.
Take, for example, Jared Leto, Oscar-winning actor and lead singer of rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, who invested in Nest Labs, which was sold to Google for $3.2 billion. Among him are investors like Nas, who has dabbled in the Bitcoin industry and invested in lyric website Genius (formerly Rap Genius) as well as DeviantArt, the largest online art gallery and community. And while Ashton Kutcher’s face may be all over Nikon ads, his wallet has contributed to such tech companies as Skype, Airbnb, Uber, Soundcloude, Shazaam, Spotify, car service Getaround, e-commerce company Fab, FourSquare, and Duolingo.
Stamped, an app for reviewing businesses and restaurant, has investors including Ellen DeGeneres, Ryan Seacrest, and Justin Bieber.
And on that note, Ppop star Justin Bieber has paid cash versus taking equity trade for the ratings app Stamped, instant messaging app Tinychat, and music streaming service Spotify. He also took an equity stake in Shots, a selfie sharing app for which he led a $1.1 million seed round - which paid off for the app developer - Shots's popularity spiked when Bieber started using it to post his own photos. Until recently,
In 2011 actor Leonardo DiCaprio came on as an advisor to assist with branding and marketing - and to help the comany gain access to other celebrities - and led a $4 million investment round in Mobli, a Tel Aviv-based photo sharing app maker and competitor to Instagram. He was joined by actor Tobey Maguire and athletes Lance Armstrong and Serena Williams.
Actor Jared Leto has made more than 40 investments in companies like Blue Bottle Coffee, HR software company Zenefits, and video streaming app Meerkat, with him stating that his best investment, both creatively and financially, was in Internet of Things company Nest Labs, which Google acquired for $3.2 billion in 2014.
Not only is Magic Johnson a major (fast) foodie investor, he is a general partner of Detroit Venture Partners LP that has invested in more than a dozen early stage tech companies.
Musician MC Hammer not only served to help Pandora break into the music space and, well you know, actually have the executives "talk music", he also has invested in contact-sharing app Bump Technologies, mobile payment company Square, and magazine app Flipboard.
The Kardashians took it to a new level by aliginin
U2 artist Bono's equity firm has invested heavily in Yelp, Facebook and Wikipedia. In 2010 it bought $120 million in Facebook stock, giving it a 1.5 percent stake in the social media company - and had previoulsy made a $90 million investment. After Facebook's IPO in 2012, the firm sold 11.5 percent of its shares, netting Bono an estimated $10 million.
Smart Or Not?
The majority of these investments are smart moves - for not only the celebrity to earn some money at often a higher amount than they make on screen or in the music or sports business - but truly for the companies. Many of these companies would not have succeeded without these celebrity investments.
So What Do You Do With This Information?
Trying to categorize and analyze celebrity investments is like trying to clean out a hoarder’s abode. Every investment is different, and they come in all shapes and sizes. However, it’s obvious that more and more celebrities are taking the opportunity to get involved with brands they can stand behind with actual dollars.
Are you interested in learning how to successfully partner celebrities to your brand - without spending a million? Watch this short webinar to learn Hollywood insider tricks to create and kick start an entertainment marketing campaign that is the perfect extension for your social media program.
Topics: Celebrity Partnership, Strategic Partnerships, Opportunities
Stacy Jones, Hollywood Branded's founder and CEO, has over twenty six years of leadership experience building global entertainment branding campaigns for top Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of brands. Her career started after receiving her BFA in Theater Production & Scenic Design from the University of Arizona. Acknowledged as an expert in the field, she has appeared on CNN and MSNBC; spoken at conferences around the globe from Germany to Beijing; and has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, Financial Times, The Economist, Brandweek, Advertising Age, Variety, B&C and Mediaweek amongst others. Originally from Texas, you will still hear her ya’ll as she gathers the team for strategy planning sessions. Like all true entrepreneurs, Stacy is an adventurer at her core – having sky dived, hang glided off bi-planes, swam with crocs while rafting the Zambezi in Africa, photographed grizzly bears in Alaska, trekked Mayan ruins in Belize, explored the ocean as an avid scuba diver, and who loves owning an advertising agency where she swims with a different type of Hollywood shark on a daily basis.