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Celebrity creative directors: What’s the value?

Having a famous face to endorse products is common marketing strategy and over the years, celebrities have taken on roles of brand ambassadors or spokespersons. However, the latest trend is for celebrities to take on the role of creative directors at major brands.

Recently Justin Timberlake took on the role of Bud Light Platinum’s creative director while BlackBerry brought on board singer, songwriter and entrepreneur Alicia Keys (pictures) as its global creative director.

In her new role, Keys leads an array of new business initiatives that aim to drive engagement with consumers. Keys also works with app developers, content creators, retailers, carriers and the entertainment community to shape the BlackBerry 10 platform, and leads the initiative to enhance entertainment consumption and distribution through BlackBerry 10.

Justin Timberlake’s deal with Bud Light Platinum is a little less transparent than Keys’. So far, Timberlake has appeared in a 60-second spot called “Platinum Night” during the Grammys for the brand. Nonetheless, the role of creative director is not completely new to Timberlake’s portfolio of jobs. He recently also took on the role of creative director at Myspace, which he partly owns.

So while Keys’ seems to have her tasks openly ironed out for her, what does it mean for other celebrities such as musician Lady Gaga or Will-I-Am? Will.i.am, front-man for hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas, became Intel’s “director of creative innovation” in January 2011. In May 2010, Lady Gaga was announced as Polaroid’s “creative director for Specialty Line of Polaroid Imaging Products.”

Do celebrities really bring something fresh to table that industry creative directors do not? Or is this simply another form of the age-old celebrity endorsement for the brand?

According to Chris Chiu, Ren Partnership founder and chief creative officer, the move simply makes the brand “cool.”

“If Justin Timberlake can take the time to interact with the brand, people will think he consumes the product or at least respects the brand enough to take time out to do this,” Chiu adds.

Others such as Rayner Lim, creative partner for the agency Contagious think this “creative director” status is simply another celebrity endorsement, which is undoubtedly “one of the oldest tricks in the book”.

Lim however adds that it shouldn’t be just picking someone who’s cool and glueing him to the brand but it has to have a deeper connection.

“For example, how about Chris Brown for a new Muay Thai boxing class at California Fitness? Or even Justin Bieber for L’Oreal lipsticks surely must work,” he muses.

“Point is I am pretty sure we will not be saying Bye bye bye to celebrity endorsements with fancy titles.”

What do you think about celebrities working in-house? Comment here.

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