The side hustle (working a job on top of another job) became a staple of early #girlboss culture and it merged perfectly with the rise of celebrity lifestyle brands. It became a cornerstone of the “do it all” mentality that has led to burnout (especially for those who work a f/t job and freelance – I see you!). People are tired of being expected to turn a hobby or passion into a revenue. People are tired of constantly being encouraged to overlap their home life and work life.
Gwyneth Paltrow has never shied away from monetizing her taste – she’s called it “contextual commerce” for a very long time and has built out Goop (which, editorially, is not very strong) on clickbait combined with luxury products. Her stamp of approval IS the business. She scaled it by taking a page from the Kardashians, who years ago decided to stop promoting other companies and products and make their own, and brought all business in-house.
(What, Gwyneth take a page from that family? Yes, it’s undeniable she has. There’s no one who has done it better than Kim and she might not get invited on Valentino’s yacht but she absolutely created a business model that many celebs follow.)
This injectable ad, though, feels a little different because it’s such an aggressive sell. The Instagram post paired with an “exclusive” Us Weekly interview, reads like something we’d get from a Bachelor person or Bravolebrity. In it, Gwyneth pulls out that her “friend” happens to be a plastic surgeon and that’s why she was willing to try the injectable, and why she feels comfortable recommending it now. The execution and buzzwords like “natural” (for an injectable? Lol) hit her key talking points but it doesn’t elevate the message.
So how did we go from her delightfully haughty “I'd rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin” message to promoting being the face of an anti-wrinkle injection with a full commercial?
An A-lister doing this kind of work would have been unheard of 20 years ago but she isn’t, by her own metric, really an actress anymore. She’s a CEO making it work in a very unstable economy. No amount of prestige can guard you from a pandemic. Fashion sales are precarious – Goop has a clothing line, retail is way down, Goop has several brick and mortar locations. Offices have become unusable – Goop invested in a very posh space in Santa Monica. In-person conferences are irresponsible for the foreseeable future – Goop had a robust event arm. There are a lot of income streams that dried up overnight and like many other companies, Goop has to hustle to keep the lights on (even when those lights are Restoration Hardware chandeliers).
In the earlier days of COVID, the conversation around celebrity culture revolved around how boring and ordinary everyone is (remember the NYT’s Celebrity Culture is Burning); the line between “them” and “us” eroded and “them” was not glamourous or aspirational. Turns out being famous doesn’t give anyone an advantage on Zoom. Sh-t lighting is sh-t lighting. A messy house is a messy house. Pajamas are pajamas. There was no insight to be gained from a B-lister going live on Instagram.
What will happen post-COVID is anyone’s guess but it does remind me that after 9/11, people were calling for the end of celebrity as we knew it, saying how much it “doesn’t matter.” Quite the opposite happened, and the early aughts was a chaotic and game-changing era of fame that will be referenced for decades to come. I predict the same thing will happen when this current crisis ends; famous people, from red carpets to scandals, will come roaring back, as will our interest in it. Until then, the Gwyneths and Bachelor people will have to keep doing what they need to for cash flow. Could Goop Gouda in a Can be next?