This morning we had the opportunity to attend a very informative presentation entitled “$ell-ebrity” at The Fashion Bid. David Jacoby and Judith Roth of Schiff Hardin LLP gave a presentation on the dangers and precautions to be taken when hiring celebrities to promote or be the face of a product, and answered a variety of questions presented by brand representatives.
The presentation began by examining the growing influence of celebrities in the media and in everyday life. For example, one slide showed two rows of past covers of Vogue, with the most recent issues on the bottom row. Whereas the first row featured only models, the bottom row had a celebrity on every single cover, thus demonstrating the growing presence of celebrities. Another growing trend is for celebrities to branch out and become involved in other industries, notably the fashion industry. Gwen Stefani is a prime example of this phenomenon as she has careers as a singer, a designer, and an endorser respectively.
We were then informed on how certain celebrities and historical figures estates continue to earn money long after their death. When companies use an identity such as Albert Einsteins to promote a product, his estate makes money. California and Indiana, among many others, allow celebrities’ estates to earn money after their death; New York, however, does not
The presentation veered in a slightly different direction when we were told many cautionary tales about celebrities who successfully sued companies for using their identity without their knowledge. Paris Hilton, for example, sued Hallmark after they used her trademarked catchphrase “That’s Hot” in one of their greeting cards.
When deciding on which celebrity to hire to represent a brand or product, it is important to make sure that the celebrity matches the company image. Good product placement is key.