Big Stars Want More Control in Brand Deals
Ye Splits With Gap
In an Instagram (META) clip posted last month, Kanye West told Gap (GPS) executives, “You have to really give me the position to be Ye and let me do what I’m thinking, or I have to do the thinking somewhere else.” Last week he finalized that departure, ending his company Yeezy’s contract with the retailer.
Kanye’s split from Gap is part of a larger trend in which celebrities are seeking more control in their branding deals with companies. Amid today’s social-media driven world, this power struggle poses an interesting question.
Who Needs Who?
In the past, celebrities relied heavily on advertising agencies, media companies, and sponsorships. Outside of their main gig, many relied on endorsements to earn income. For this, they needed these third parties to promote them and help bring in revenue. Now, thanks to social media, the equation has changed.
It’s common for mega-celebrities to have tens or even hundreds of millions of followers on social media. For example, Dwayne Johnson has about 337 million followers, which is more people than the entire population of the US. The immense influence that some celebrities wield is shifting the balance of power.
Going It Alone
Thanks to massive social media followings, celebrities now have a natural outlet to promote their own products, brands, or companies. This is partly why we’ve seen a rise in celebrity-owned brands.
A few examples include Jessica Alba and The Honest Co. (HNST), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Teremana Tequila, Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin, and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty.
Of course, not every celebrity is in a position to turn down a major brand deal from The Gap like Kanye West. Clearly the digital age has transformed the concept of influence, forcing both celebrities and companies to adapt.
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