Celebrities, stop shilling for tech companies!

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

What ever happened to the good old days when celebrities would sip a Coke on screen for millions of dollars in endorsement money? I had no problems watching Britney Spears dance for Pepsi or Derek Jeter apply deodorant and shave with a particular razor.

But now, instead of being barraged with images and commercials focused on celebs, I’m now forced to listen to these celebrities talk at press conferences about all the hard work they put into developing products. 

In a growing trend, technology companies are going beyond standard endorsement deals and asking celebrities to come on board as employees.
What began with Polaroid’s appointment of Lady Gaga as creative director has now prompted another company, Intel, to appoint Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am to the same position.

Honestly, this makes me feel bad for the poor hacks that have worked at Intel for 15 years hoping to one day be promoted to director that now have to watch a celebrity swoop in and take their place.

In reality, clearly will.i.am isn’t taking any real position in the office but it’s the principle, man. 

Obviously, these celebrities won’t be spending their days in the Intel or Polaroid office dealing with things a director would normally have to, which overshadows the people who actually are.

But rather, these appointments are all about tapping into a celebrity’s influence. The traditional rules of advertising have changed, and brands are now seeking new ways to interact with their fans rather than just advertising on a superficial level.

It’s not about barraging people with images and commercials anymore, it’s about showing fans how a product can better their lives. In advertising terms that means product placement in movies or music videos as well as Intel and Polaroid’s newest move, giving celebs "creative control" over a particular product to increase a consumer’s desire to buy.

This idea draws upon the age old principle that you’re more likely to buy something from someone you know who recommends the product.

For example, I’m much more willing to try a new coffee shop if a friend raves about it than if I see some random commercial for it on TV.

This is the same reason for appointing will.i.am of Gaga to creative director positions; fans are more willing to buy a product if it’s their idol recommending it - even more so if the idol had something to do with its design.

It’s safe to say these celebs aren’t truly involved in creating products the same way a creative director would be. For me, announcing products under the guise that a celebrity actually designed them in the same way a creative director would have is misleading and a poor use of social influence.

Of course from a marketing standpoint, it’s an awesome strategy that will probably sell millions of products. But it kind of feels like these brands are taking advantage of loving fans.