Kim Kardashian: Demise of a Brand
Several years ago I was working on a project for a client who was looking to get their brand into the hands of willing celebrities to announce their official launch. So I coordinated with an old client who was able to help with a few relatively unknown, but up and coming celebs, who would give us the anecdotal, ‘Oh, you caught me off guard while buying this great new brand,’ shot. It was 2008 and among those willing up-and- comers was Kim Kardaishian. Her Calabasas, California clothing store, Dash, had been open for 2 years, and she was soon to compete on Dancing with the Stars, but her celebrity status was just starting to emerge, and she was willing to take an unpaid gig for a friend.
Admittedly, I didn’t know who she was, and I wasn’t overly impressed with her style from the picture submitted, but our client was happy and that was all that mattered.
So the press release went out, sales came in, and life went on.
Then something happened in 2009, and that same girl that I was so unaware of, was suddenly everywhere. From clothes to shoes, jewelry, cupcakes and diet pills (yes, she endorses both sugary sweet deserts and the diet pill to counter act them!) to nail polish and more, Kim Kardashian has successfully planted her face on just about every product that will take it.
Here’s a quick list of where you can find her bold brows and pursed lips touting a product’s value:
- A nail polish line for OPI
- Four DASH boutiques
- Clothing line for Sears called KardashianKollection
- An endorsement deal with QuickTrim, weight-loss supplement
- An Armenian-inspired jewelry line called Virgins, Angels, and Saints
- An endorsement deal with ShoeDazzle.com
- H own signature perfume
- An endorsement deal with Signature Series Couture Lollipops from The
- Endorses fast food for Carls Jr.
- Endorses Muscle Flex VATA athletic wear
- Endorses Midori Licquer
- Has a sunless tanner called Kardashian Glamour Tan
- Has a line of bathing suits called the Divinity Collection for Beach Bunny Swimwear
- Has an endorsement deal with her sisters with Perfect Skin
- Has an endorsement with Skechers (hence the super sexy Super Bowl ad)
- Has her own line of signature watches
- An endorsement deal with “For Every Body” candles, which created the Kardashian DASH signature candle
- An at-home laser hair removal product called Tria Beauty
And here she was in 2008 endorsing my client’s clothing line, Graffiti Pink.
So given all that she endorses, I couldn’t help but wonder if she hasn’t outdone even her own goals of brand saturation. I have never watched her show, nor do I intend to, yet I’m still sick of seeing her face everywhere. From a Midori billboard near my block (remember, she claims to avoid alcohol) to virtually every magazine cover, I just can’t seem to escape her. I know I have a marketing mind, so I’m probably more biased than most when it comes to brand efficacy but I have to wonder, does anyone really care about her endorsements anymore? I find it surprising that brands still believe she carries much clout for them, or that they are willing to shell out big bucks for her face. And just as I was wondering when I can count on a Kim Kardashian-free world, Pace Lattin of PerformInsider raises this very point which I have been pondering; has Kim Kardashian finally met her demise?
You can read his article here, but one point he makes, which I can believe, is that Kim’s show has lost most of its viewership and is about to be cancelled. If that’s the case, will the rest of her endorsements follow? Will she be left to ride the curtails of her clothing stores and perfumes? I honestly don’t care, but what I do care about is why it happened and what it means from a marketing perspective. Thanks to the many incredible entrepreneurial minds out there, technology and marketing have merged to create a world where we are relatively free of brand identities; we are no longer a Pepsi nation. And I don’t believe we are a Kardashian nation either. That said, I do believe that the occasional endorsement is OK. In fact, I think the Olsen twins backing Stylemintis a good example of a celebrity endorsement that works. They are known for their off-beat and unique fashion sense, and launching a custom T-shirt line makes sense for them. However, Kim Kardashian endorsing Midori liquor is like Madonna endorsing abstinence. It doesn’t fit, and we don’t buy it.
So why the celebrity endorsements anyway? The idea is pretty simple; we like celebrities, celebrities like a product, so we must like that product too. If a = b and b = c then a=c right? So can celebrities, like magic, transfer their popularity from themselves to the products for which they choose to endorse? Does the celebrity cool factor ooze over to the product making us all want to run out and buy it? And if it does, is there a point after which enough is enough? According to some industry insiders, the opposite is true. In fact, a friend of mine who works in the Marketing department of a well known health and beauty product company states that their landing pages which contain celebrity endorsements under-perform those with an unknown model. They haven’t done any official research to support their belief but they’re guess is that consumers just don’t believe that celebrities actually deal with acne (for example).
Then why bother paying huge fees for their endorsements? And in the case of Kim, has she gone too far? Was her marketing demise coming before her marriage demise? Or were the two connected? In my opinion, Kim Kadashian, brand extraordinaire was on her way out before the wedding, and the wedding sham simply broke the camel’s back. I think it was just too much for us to swallow, along with all the other over the top crap she has fed us for years.
So, to all you celebrity endorsers and endorsees out there, I caution you to remember; Americans are idealistic dreamers and occasionally over-indulge, but even we have a breaking point. Please don’t shove a falsified image down our throats and expect us to take it with a smile. It seems even the brand strength of the incredible Kardashians can crumble.
Digital Marketing Consultant, www.digital-mesh.com
Trackbacks and pingbacks
No trackback or pingback available for this article.