Celebrity Endorsements: Making Useless Technology Look a Little Less Useless, Sometimes
by Michel Corey | published Oct. 2nd, 2015
Most people tend to feel naked without their go-to tech products either glued to their hands, ears, faces, etc. or bouncing around somewhere in their pockets and backpacks while they slog through their morning commutes.
It's more than unusual to find anyone in our generation without at least an iPhone (or an equivalent smartphone) or a laptop; usually people have both. They can be people's personal saviors from boredom and interpersonal human interaction while acting as limitless resource centers. Throughout the years, however, there were quite a few absolutely pointless, mostly forgettable products that you couldn't pay most consumers to use, and somehow still managed to grab international attention (but rarely international success). But, how?
In American culture, celebrities tend to be the "end all be all" when it comes to the latest trends and fashions in technology, so whatever they (pretend to) use, the rest of the nation tends to want, good or bad. Getting an A-lister to endorse something helps the company and gives great PR for the product itself, but if you are the consumer falling for the pretty face persuading you to buy, download or invest in whatever counterproductive or less-than-average product they make seem absolutely life-changing, chances are you have just been majorly duped.
Here are a few key examples of celebrity tech endorsements coming out swinging only to fall flat on their faces, or just being flat-out awkward from the start.
Various U2/Apple Failures
U2, Ireland's most consistent pop-rock export, if "consistency" equates to your mom still thinking "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" won a Grammy last year, has had a storied history with Apple. Both companies (and yes, we're referring to U2 as a company here) have a knack for "pushing the envelope" in a way that still manages to involve you paying way too much money for something inconsequential, so a series of collaborations was somewhat inevitable. U2 was right on the crest of the iPod wave, and it is reported that U2 actually turned down other multi-million dollar deals just to perform "Vertigo" for free in a 30-second ad and sell it exclusively on iTunes for the sole purpose of gaining a younger fan base.
Still, despite desperately attempting to cater to a "youth" market, Bono and the gang managed to lose just about all of the credibility they gained with their (RED) campaign when they released their latest album, "Songs of Innocence." The album was released for free, but in the minds of Bono and Apple, "free" is just another way of saying "automatically showing up on everyone's iTunes/iPhones/iPods whether they like it or not." The Telegraph went on to call this move a "dismal failure," and the $100 million Apple dumped into the project has probably left a bad taste in their mouth.
Sorry, not sorry, Bono.
Obama's Blackberry Love Affair
President Obama, more or less one of the most famous people in this day and age, was a confusing endorser for Blackberry when he was first elected president. Beside the fact that it's a little strange for the President to so firmly endorse a product, it is reported that Obama was consistently at odds with the Secret Service early in his presidency for refusing to move on from his Blackberry.
In the beginning of his 2008 campaign, Obama had no problem proclaiming his absolute love for the handheld device. It's a tad awkward for a politician to be so shamelessly endorsing a product, and it's turned into a sticky situation dealing with the liability of his emails being hacked and security of him andhis personal messages being at risk.
While Obama has stated that he relies on his iPad for "non-work-related" things (mainly sports highlights, he confesses), he's still one of the only people still out there championing the definitively "uncool" device. While Blackberry as a company could easily spin this devotion into a sort of "the leader of the free world still likes us, so why can't you?" campaign, the end result of Obama's endorsement ultimately just makes Blackberry look out-of-touch and old.
Scarlett Johansson's SodaStream Debacle
Easily one America's most lovable A-list celebrities, right? Unfortunately, this deal could not have had anymore complications, people offended and apologies sent out in such a short period of time -- and all for a machine that takes water and makes it into soda drinks.
Reportedly, Johansson signed on to an endorsement deal with the Israeli company despite the fact that the company's flagship factory was located in the war-torn West Bank region of Palestine. Johannson has opted to play dumb to the political fracas surrounding the product, simply claiming "I'm not a role model" when pressed on the company's political instability. Regardless, the product itself isn't all that impressive to begin with. Apparently the technology makes healthier drinks that taste almost identical to the soda people know and love, i.e. Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and so on. Aside from losing the respect of thousands of people just by working with this company, watching Johansson choose ignorance over taking a stand is just wholly disappointing.
Companies have been using big names with huge fan bases to back up a product they know probably won't do well without the celebrity behind it for ages -- which is all fun and good -- but for the love of whatever money people may or may not have in their bank accounts, backing up those endorsements with quality products might be a good place to start.