One of Ellen DeGeneres's first jobs was at a JCPenney in Metairie, Louisiana in the 1970's. Ellen is having a bit of a homecoming with the announcement that she will be the department store's new Celebrity Endorser.
From the President of J. C. Penney Company, Inc., Michael Francis:
"Ellen DeGeneres is one of the most fun and vibrant people in entertainment today, with great warmth and a down-to-earth attitude. The millions who watch her on television and follow her through social media relate to her and trust what she has to say. Importantly, we share the same fundamental values as Ellen. At JCPenney, we couldn't think of a better partner to help us put the fun back into the retail experience. Moving forward, we'll be focused on being in sync with the rhythm of our customers' lives and operating in a 'Fair and Square' manner that is rooted in integrity, simplicity and respect. We're thrilled that she's joining our team to help convey the exciting transformation under way."
Because of her daytime talk show, Ellen is a celebrity with EVERYDAY relevance. Ellen is current, hip and truly identifiable with Middle America – exactly the type of person JCP needs to get back to square one and become a viable option for today's shoppers.
The only thing I don't love about this is JCP's new logo…Celebrity Pitch is predicting that will change soon.
CCAA, a South American (Brazil) language school that teaches English, has a new spot with TWO Celebrity Endorsers – Megan Fox and Mike Tyson. In the spot, Fox represents the “Island of Milk and Honey" and Tyson the Island of Hell.” It’s a classically cheesy spot that is perfect for the teenage boys that are CCAA's target audience. I just had no idea a language school would have the cash to secure arguably A-List talent. Plus, who knew Fox and Tyson were so popular south of the border?
Is Sonic the Hedgehog really still relevant? There is alignment between the video game icon and Progressive. Progressive is using Sonic to promote its shopping comparison service as a fast way to find the best insurance company by price. However, when was the last time we've seen Sonic the Hedgehog in anything?
Sonic was introduced 20 years ago and became synonymous with Sega – the now third tier video game brand (at best). There have been a slew of Sonic games over the years, but none have been as successful as the brand was in 90's. The Progressive spot may bring back some nostalgic memories (much like Time Warner and the Roadrunner), but Sonic just seems like an odd inclusion for the insurance company. A better example of strategic alignment to communicate speed is Virgin Mobile and Usain Bolt (Read:Usain's Bolt Strikes Richard Branson's Virgin Mobile).
Regardless, it’s nice to see Sonic. He's just not the most relevant character. I'd expect more from Progressive.
We all saw exactly what Natasha Hastings is made of in this year's ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue (above). Her visibility on Twitter and her ability to engage fans and consumers for Endorsers is equally impressive.
Natasha Hastings is a 2008 Olympic Gold Medal winner (she won an Olympic Gold Medal in the Women’s 4×400 m relay team). And while you may not hear about her in the news every day or see her in the pages of US Weekly or People, Olympic Athletes like Natasha can be major contributors to building brand credibility when the Olympics do come around. In a recent Tweet, Natasha said, "Another @UnderArmour shipment. Love waking up to new gear from them!"
That statement is the type of value Endorsers expect from their Athletes – it’s believable and shows an undeniable TRUE alignment with the athlete. What's more, Celebrity Pitch asked Natasha what she likes to wear when running in cold weather. Natasha replied, "Hard to choose, but any Storm hoody." Ok, it’s simple enough, but the accessibility, authenticity and promotion that Endorsers can gain from Athletes like Natasha that are seasonal and not necessarily "mainstream," is undeniably VERY valuable. Interaction matters for brands, and if a Celebrity Endorser can act as a voice, even better! Keep Tweeting Natasha!
Since the beginning of his professional career in 2007, John Isner has been sporting Nike on the court. However, the tides have changed. Now, for mid-six figures a year, he will be wearing Lacoste on and off the court. Isner to WWD:
“I’m proud to represent a brand that has such a strong history in tennis and sports values.”
What's more, Lacoste will be heavily promoting its "Tall" line in the upcoming years. At 6'9, Isner is the perfect Celebrity Endorser for the brand's line extension. Overall, Lacoste holds about a dozen Celebrity Endorsers in their vault – including tennis players Andy Roddick, Richard Gasquet, Stanislas Wawrinka and golfers Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie.
Kris Jenner built the celebrity brand we know simply as "The Kardashians." Apparently she also has the power to kill the brand. The New York Post reports that Kris' iron fist has squashed the magazine deal with American Media Inc. and doll deal with Barbie. America Media Inc. found Kris' demands for editorial control over Kardashian coverage in all AMI's magazines laughable. From the Post:
“AMI chief David Pecker made it clear that there was no way he was going to tell his editors what stories they could and couldn’t do…”
Kris claims she never had the conversation, but does anyone put this past this celebrity- obsessed, Celebrity Endorsement bulldog? Doubt it.
The Kardashian Barbie has also been killed. Shocking, considering their fame is based on Kim's sex tape and playboy centerfolds. According to MTV News a Mattel rep said:
"As popular as the Kardashian sisters are, at this point in time we are not manufacturing Barbie-branded Kardashian dolls."
A Kardashian Magazine could actually work, so I wouldn't be surprised if we hear buzz about this again. However, the Barbie doll is better left to those more morally conscience – unless they're looking for Barbie to get a new career, "Celebrity Sex Tape and Playboy Star."
K&G, a low-price/discount retailer, announced a new line inspired by Blair Underwood creatively called, "Blair Underwood." From Yahoo Finance:
"I wanted this collection to be available to every man without a steep price barrier, I felt K&G was a great partner to launch this line because of their ability to bring well-made designer clothing to the public at affordable prices."
Blair has impeccable style, but lacks the popularity and strategy to go into high fashion. This Celebrity Endorsement deal has a high propensity to be a powerful and dynamic partnership since Blair Underwood is one of the most popular African American actors. According to Quantcast, K&G online visitors are 492% more likely to be African American, which can prove, arguably, that Blair Underwood is in the right place with this K&G endorsement deal.