We are infatuated with celebrities. In media. In sports. In politics. In business. In marketing the luxe lifestyle.
With an array of stars that would make Graydon Carter blush on Oscar night, the luxury industry has assembled an impressive line-up of film stars, athletes, tech titans and super models, providing a fascinating back-story to the power and influence of fame on consumer behavior.
There is little doubt that this approach has succeeded in getting people to pay attention. It is not uncommon for people to walk into stores, ask for the “fill-in the name of the celebrity product”, caring little if at all about the brand itself. Should this be a cause of concern for the industry?
I’m more interested in what this says about human behavior—how we use products and brands to define who we are, and what we aspire to be. Understand that we are not talking about selling hope and social acceptance to impressionable teens, but exquisitely designed, beautifully engineered symbols of status and success to a group of people who would humbly describe themselves as smart, self-confident, independent thinkers. Exactly the type of person who you would expect to scoff at these pitches like Dorothy staring down the Wizard.
Looking solely at cause and effect you could make a fairly convincing argument that the investment in star-power has paid off handsomely. A period of celebxploitation and seduction.
Shallow? Perhaps. Effective? Seems like it. Maybe brands simply don’t want to be left standing on the wrong side of the velvet rope.
When the stardust settles, it all comes down to our vulnerabilities We buy luxury goods to make us feel smarter, richer, and more successful. They help us fit in and stand out. They inspire awe and envy and say look at me, I have arrived. Just like a celebrity on the red carpet.