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Do I think celebrities are marketers? No, I don’t even think they would think so. They have had large teams of marketers and publicists around them throughout their careers, building their personal brands. Do I think they are acting as marketers? No, but I think that a really smart marketer has positioned them that way.
Celebrities are people with supposedly amazing style and taste from a creative standpoint. Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake are two hyper-creative musical artists who are at that nexus of style so I can understand why a brand would leverage them as being a trend-spotter or someone who has a stamp on creative vision rather than just a spokesperson.
Ashton Kutcher has been doing this for years, we just didn’t know about it. He has been an investor [as co-founder of the venture capital fund A Grade investments] and has taken a business interest in a lot of emerging media and social players. He has provided a vibrant viewpoint into a lot of companies that he has ties to – and his wallet too.
zI’ve done several celebrity campaigns and I started my career in sports where it is all about celebrity. Sometimes it’s more difficult to invite that into your process: there are handlers and agents, and it becomes more complex than easy.
I don’t think that [a star such as] George Clooney is gunning for my job. The role of marketer is changing to one that is more business-driven, where we are the holder of the customer experience, rather than just the holder of the creative and the brand. It is our decisions and our strategies that are bringing in these celebrity creative voices.