Madonna, Beckham, Lopez – The best selling brands are humans.

Published on Friday, November 27th, 2009 (0) Comments

What drives our endless fascination with celebrities and how does it affect the brand driven retail business?

“Celebrity worship has probably existed as long as there have been famous people. But it has probably only become as intense as it is given the technological advances that allow us to create societies, market them to a worldwide audience, and share information about them” (James Houran).

With thousands of brands trying to compete for customer’s attention, celebrities have a clear advantage to make their message heard. Celebrity-licensed products accounted for over $3 billion in retail sales already 6 years ago. Best selling brands in recent years have been Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and David Beckham, to name a few.
jessica alba
During recent years, the line between person and brand has blurred, and celebrities have begun applying techniques from the corporate world to their careers: marketing and protecting a brand identity, trade marking and licensing their names, launching their own product lines and embracing product endorsements to boost their perceived value to consumers.

The question remains; What drives our endless fascination with celebrity worship in the time where celebrities are no longer people who have special talents and attributes and are simply marketing products.”?
jeniffer lopez

There are three well-documented reasons for an increasingly growing cult of celebrity.

1. DNA – the very need to find an idol and follow him is programmed into our bodies…
2. ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY – A technology designed to defeat the locks that safeguard our pleasure buttons and press the buttons in various combination…
3. BEAUTY – Even three-month-old infants prefer to look at pretty face…
angelina jolie
1. DNA – “The very need to find an idol and follow him is programmed into our DNA. What’s in our DNA, as a social animal, is the interest in looking at alpha males and females; the ones who are important in the pack. We are sociologically preprogrammed to follow the leader and we are biochemical sitting ducks for the Hollywood star system” (Fischoff). We were selected not only to rank successful individuals highly and to prefer them as models, but also to kiss up to them in order to make them prefer us as interactional partners” (Francisco Gil-White).

2. ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY – ”The technology of fiction delivers a simulation of life that an audience can enter in the comfort of their cave, couch, or theater seat. It tricks us with illusions that duplicate the experience of seeing and hearing real events. The illusions include costumes, makeup, sets, sound effects and animation. When the illusions work, there is no mystery to the question “why do people enjoy fiction?” It is identical to the question “Why people enjoy life?” When we are absorbed in a movie, we get to see breathtaking landscapes, important people, falling in love with ravishing men and women, protect loved ones, attain impossible goals, and defeat wicked enemies. Not a bad deal for a few bucks!” (Pinker).

”The entertainment media is at least partly to blame for creating the “monster” known as the celebrity super-fan. The whole Hollywood-spin machine works together to create images that are impossible for any of us to live up to. They purposefully set us up to admire and even covet something we can never have. Then, when we are completely vulnerable, they sell us the image even harder – from headlines that titillate us with “celebrity secrets,” to the books, diets, cosmetics, foods, jewelry, and clothes that promise we’ll be closer to the ones we adore. There are fortunes being made by turning fans into victims, and all it starts by creating that frenzy known as celebrity worship.” (Aronowitz).

3. BEAUTY – “Could we really be equipped with an innate eye for beauty? What about the natives in National Geographic who file their teeth, stretch their necks, burn scars into their cheeks? Don’t they show that standards of beauty are arbitrary and vary capriciously? They do not. That is the tacit assumption behind the National Geographic argument, but it’s obviously false. People alter their bodies for many reasons: to look rich, to look well connected, to look tough, to look “in,” to earn membership in an elite group by enduring a painful initiation. Sexual attractiveness is different. People outside a culture usually agree with people inside about who is beautiful and who is not, and people everywhere want good-looking partners. Even three-month-old infants prefer to look at a pretty face.

The psychologist D. Singh has shown photographs of female bodies of different sizes and shapes to hundreds of people of various ages, sexes and cultures. Everyone finds a ratio of .70 or lower the most attractive. Singh also measured the ratio of Playboy winners from 7 decades. Their weight went down, but their waist-to-hip ratio has stayed the same. Even the ancient Venus figurines, carved tens of thousands of years ago, have the right proportions. Beauty is not, as some feminists have claimed, a conspiracy by men to objectify and oppress women. The really sexist societies drape women in chardos from head to foot. Women in open societies want to look good because it gives them an edge in competing for husbands, status, and the attention of powerful people. Men in closed societies hate beauty because it makes their wives and daughters attractive to other men, giving the woman a measure of control. Similar economics make man want to look good, too, but the market forces are weaker or different because men’s looks matter less to women than woman’s looks matter to men.

Though the beauty industry is not a conspiracy against women,. We calibrate our eye for beauty against people we see, including our illusory neighbors in the mass media. A daily diet of freakishly beautiful people may recalibrate the scales and make the real ones, including ourselves, look ugly” (Pinker).

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