Celebrity status now shines beyond the silver screen, lighting up the world of spirits, wine, and cocktails, with A-listers routinely trading scripts and couture for spirits and cellars.
A stroll down the drink aisle can feel like a walk down the red carpet, with A-list names behind many labels. But does stardom guarantee long-term success for a beverage brand?
As a veteran of London’s glitz and LA’s glamour, I’ve found a Hollywood adage rings true: ‘Everyone’s a star-f*cker.’ It’s a crude saying, but it captures stardom’s magnetic pull. Fans crave connections with idols; a shared drink can create a tangible bond.
No Short Cuts To Success
I’m an entrepreneur on a mission to propel our independent Prosecco brand, Bella Principessa, to stardom. The allure of celebrity association in beverages is powerful, particularly when navigating challenging waters. The temptation for instant recognition and a devoted fanbase is compelling.
Stardom may offer a shortcut to mass appeal, but our Prosecco brand has shown independent shine. Although a celebrity endorsement could be in our future, our brand stands on its merit.
We’re more than just bubbles in a bottle – we represent a lifestyle. Our success so far underscores the truth that achievement extends beyond celebrity endorsement. Our winning formula? Customer focus and market fit.
The Celeb Factor and Evaluating Authenticity
While some savvy celebrities have proven that star power, when fused with quality, can spin out profitable ventures, the path isn’t all roses. Celebrity brands may blast off, but maintaining altitude requires more than a famous face. One misstep could tarnish the brand and the category, particularly for those experiencing the product for the first time.
What happens if a famous face draws a consumer to a new category and is disappointed upon arrival? That consumer may not come back. There are other unique challenges, too. Celebrity brands must navigate fleeting fan loyalties, scandal threats, and potential product performance challenges.
As a starting point, it’s vital to clearly distinguish between celebrity endorsers and celebrity entrepreneurs and what drives them. Is it quick gains or fervent passion?
Celebrity Liquor: Rising Stars
The rise from fewer than 40 to over 350 celebrity-affiliated brands since 2018 is astounding. Insiders note celebrities may view beverage endorsements as easy cash without personal investment. Risking their own money shifts the line from promoter to committed partner.
Without this commitment, celebrities and their teams may not dedicate the effort required to elevate the brand to its peak—a shared goal among all stakeholders.
George Clooney’s tequila triumph, Casamigos (now with Diageo), has become one of the more well-known success stories. Hot on its heels came Diddy’s vodka victory and Post Malone’s unexpected plunge into rosé. It made it seem like celebrity participation is now the not-so-secret elixir for beverage success.
The Thin Line of Success
Yet, not all celebrity ventures glitter. Pharrell Williams’ Qream Liqueur, Danny DeVito’s Limoncello, and Donald Trump’s Vodka stumbled, halting production due to weak sales despite early hype. These tales underscore that a famous name alone doesn’t guarantee brand success.
The business of wines and spirits is a high-stakes game where quality reigns king. Take Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door Whiskey, for instance. Its accolades in a crowded whiskey market underscore the importance of market appeal, efficient supply chain, regulatory knowledge, and top-tier taste. These winning principles apply to all brands, celebrity or otherwise.
In the beverage industry, we can’t solely depend on celebrity allure. Celebrities might ignite initial interest in a brand, but it’s up to the product to shine brightly enough to sustain that demand.
Similarly, Jay-Z’s Ace of Spades champagne success stems from strategic category selection, targeted audience understanding, exceptional taste, effective marketing, and a strong network – not just fame.
The beverage sector’s resilience and allure to wealthy investors have fuelled a surge in unique brands. Yet, the industry values authenticity, innovation, quality, and sustainable growth over mass-produced products birthed from corporate focus groups.
Challenger brands must embody these values, not merely stand in for them – as industry leaders do. Striking a balance is vital for success.
Brands that resonate with consumers, fill market gaps and uphold these values have a better shot at securing backing from industry behemoths that value enduring success over fleeting fame.
Clinking With The Stars
Choosing a drink goes beyond the label. It’s about connecting with a story, embracing a lifestyle, and clinking glasses with beloved icons.
Whether you’re drawn to the cowboy charisma of George Strait, the laid-back cool of Matthew McConaughey, or someone else, the glass you raise tells not just your story but the story of the celebrity entrepreneur you’ve chosen to bring into your home.
Engaged celebrities can cultivate enduring connections with consumers and propel themselves toward success. Their ventures have the potential to transcend fleeting trends and trigger lasting transformations in the beverage industry.
What will the future hold? Only time—and the clink of many more toasts—will determine the future of this fascinating intersection between stardom and the business of booze.
About the author: Michael Goldstein, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Prosecco Ventures, is working to transform Bella Principessa Prosecco into a household name that is more than just bubbles in a bottle. Read his exclusive interview here.