Calombaris, Foreman and Reynolds: What we can learn from celebrity business owners

celebrity business owners

Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman.

Whoops, there goes another celebrity chef not paying his staff. 

Oh dear, Gwyneth is in the media again launching another crazy goop product.

As much as celebrities can, and do, leverage their profile to create business brands, in business, they are operating outside their realm of genius, and unlike most business people, they live in the spotlight where one slip is all it takes to make the news.

Just because you are a successful chef doesn’t mean you are going to be a successful entrepreneur. 

Unfortunately, fame simply means added pressure for business success, because the mistakes everyday business people make that usually go unnoticed are going to be headlines.

Celebrity businesses are no more disaster-prone than any other business… the fall from grace just seems more spectacular because it is one of our heroes failing.

The media can be incredibly cruel with celebrities, even a change of clothes, weight or partner can be published on the front cover of a tabloid, so business failure is easy fodder.

Janine Ellis of Boost Juice once said that she is very careful with her alcohol intake because she never wants to read the headline ‘Juice Lady On The Juice’.

Often, bad press arises when a celebrity well known for something attempts to launch or endorse a business brand that has nothing to do with their zone of expertise. 

Trump Steaks or a game of Shaq Fu anyone? 

Just check out Japanese celebrity adverts for some of the weirdest and most controversial pairings, many obviously done for the money. If you really want to see weird celebrity endorsement, check out Woolworths’ Jackie Chan advert.

Most entrepreneurs will know that mistakes in business are inevitable. You need to make mistakes to learn what not to do and how to improve. 

Even the best businesses have owners have stories of screw-ups, both big and small.

However, for celebrity brands, one big mistake can be all it takes to either put them out of business or see them trending in the news, memes and on social media.

Given being a celebrity business owner comes with the added pressure of ‘a few strikes and you’re out’, what does it take for a celebrity business to succeed? Is it even possible?

Let’s take a look at a few celebrities beating the odds.

George Foreman

Celebrity businesses are more likely to be successful if they are aligned and authentic in their approach. 

The famous George Foreman Grill has been a massive success over the years — over 100 million have been sold globally since 1994 — mostly because this champion boxer was obviously passionate about reducing the fat in our diets while still enabling us to enjoy a good juicy steak.

Many celebrities have followed Foreman’s lead by launching their own grills — including Evander Hollyfield, Carl Lewis and yes, you guessed it, Jackie Chan — but none have seen the level of the success of the original.

Key takeaway

Being original and authentic counts for plenty when it comes to creating true brand value. When you create anything, make sure it comes from your own interests, passions and ideas. It makes it hard for copycats to follow you.

Aviation Gin and Laughing Man Coffee

The extremely funny campaigns by Laughing Man Coffee founder Hugh Jackman and Aviation Gin founder Ryan Reynolds are an example of a clever celebrity partnership.

It’s great business because they’re leveraging each other’s business brands and aligning with the continued (and hilarious) ‘spat’ these two massive Hollywood personal brands are playing up in social media.

Key takeaway

Partnerships in business can come in many forms, and provide massive leverage to get in front of each other’s audience. Consider who has a similar audience with a different service or product, then check they align with your brand, team up and go for it.

The Kardashians

The Kardashians are the epitome of successful celebrity business branding, putting their names, faces and bodies on their own brand of products and shows. But hey, let’s be honest, they aren’t famous for their talents. They made themselves famous, so they have successful celebrity business moneymaking down to an art form. 

Not only do these women make an income from their own brands, but they also make millions more for simply endorsing other people’s brands too.

They prove that, for a celebrity brand, any press is good press.

Key takeaway

Don’t be afraid to self promote. In fact, in today’s overcrowded, noisy world, it’s imperative that you create a strong brand and stand out. As the Kardashians have proved, you can build something out of nothing, but you have to be your own best cheer squad.

Harry and Meghan

The split by the Sussex’s from the royal household may perhaps be a stroke of genius when it comes to celebrity business brands.

Already it seems they are earning from guest speaking and the rumour mill is working overtime on the possible brands Harry and Meghan might launch off the back of their famous personal brands, especially now they are unfettered by royal protocol. This includes anything from public speaking and books to baby products, acting and celebrity endorsements.

Key takeaway

Consider your brand as a platform, a way to generate multiple streams of income from your expertise, service or approach. This could be a best selling book, coaching program, podcast, retreats, information and physical product, merchandise, speaking gigs, online programs. Today there are so many channels you can utilise to build an incredibly profitable brand, no matter who you are.

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