While we were trying to get our Emmys posts up yesterday, Jennifer Lawrence posted her Amazon wedding registry and everyone’s reaction was…huh?
A few weeks ago it was Jeremy Renner partnering with Amazon for some kind of camping collection. Maybe it wasn’t exactly camping but there was plaid and some thermoses I think and maybe fishing gear so, whatever, you get the point.
This isn’t, necessarily, Jennifer’s personal registry – I think it’s more like things she thinks would be cool for you? Here’s the introduction to the page:
“Planning a wedding is so exciting, but it can be overwhelming. For anyone else needing a little inspiration, I thought it would be fun to collaborate with Amazon to share a few of my favourite registry wish-list items. It’s so easy, and you can find everything you need all in one place.”
That’s followed by a couple of sentences here and there under different headings like “Outdoor Entertaining”, “Travel”, “In the Kitchen”, etc.
I’m not here to discuss what I think of her recommendations. Home sh-t is not my strength. I can barely pick a paint colour. And besides, the more interesting conversation is why Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar winner, and multiple Oscar nominee, is doing this. But first, a brief refresher on the recent history of celebrity endorsements.
There was a time, not too long ago, when North American celebrities couldn’t be seen schilling goods. When I first started blogging over 15 years ago (yes, it’s been that long), celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney, major A List stars, would have their watch commercials and/or whatever else they were selling, restricted to overseas broadcast only – mostly Asia, and certain regions in Europe. The thinking was that the Western audience would be turned off by celebrities as spokespeople for brands and that it would somehow diminish their status; after all, the illusion of celebrity used to be that they were unknowable, mysterious. And to see them telling you about this or that product would break the fantasy.
All that changed, obviously, with the internet. YouTube made it so that commercials that aired in Tokyo could also be seen in Toronto. And then came the rise of the Reality Star. I’ve been writing lately about Reality 3.0, how we’ve entered the new era of how reality stars are reshaping the celebrity ecosystem through hookups, most notably with Bachelors Tyler Cameron and Mike Johnson and Gigi Hadid and Demi Lovato respectively. But that’s just the romance of it. There’s also the finance of it.
Reality stars are now, arguably, just as popular as traditional stars who become famous from television and movies. Some reality stars have more followers on social media than those with scripted television and film credits. They’ve used that popularity to promote all kinds of products which has had the effect of normalising celebrity sales and branding. Would goop have happened without HGTV? Seriously. Before HGTV there was Martha Stewart but HGTV and what it spawned accelerated “lifestyle” to a whole new level because “lifestyle” is the style of your life and not the life of your “character”. Celebrities who want to get into “lifestyle” then can no longer be like, don’t ask me personal questions, I’m just here to talk about my movie/show etc. And then social media just poured gasoline on the trend.
Speaking of social media, we haven’t even gotten to Instagram and YouTube celebrities and influencers, an even newer breed of celebrity that has pushed “sponcon” to new frontiers by further blurring their personal and professional stories.
If, then, you’re an “old school” celebrity, like Jennifer Lawrence – not necessarily in age but in creation, like how she became famous – and you’re seeing all the neo-celebrities out there on Instagram making deals all over the place, how do you respond? How does your team respond?
By the way, I should say here that Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner aren’t the only ones. Selena Gomez has also done a “list” for Amazon, as has Serena Williams. And when you look at celebrity endorsement and partnership as a whole, few celebrities aren’t associated in some way with a brand or a label from clothing to coffee and everything in between. Taylor Swift just headlined an Amazon Prime Day concert and has made deals with UPS and Target, to name a few. Beyoncé’s promoted that plant-based diet thing. Jennifer Aniston has hair and skincare and water products. And every year, more and more celebrities are lined up for Super Bowl commercials.
So it’s not like we shouldn’t be used to celebrities and sponsorship. It’s all over the place. Why this reaction then over Jennifer Lawrence and Amazon? Partly it’s because of her image. She’s kept a low profile over the last couple of years. She’s also never been that celebrity who’s put her personal life out there. Now that she’s engaged, possibly already married, and she’s nodding to her personal life for sponsorship, it may not be… as they say… on brand. She is, however, already aligned with a brand: Dior. Dior and Amazon aren’t exactly the same market, you know?
That might be what Amazon is going for. Many of us shop at Amazon – I love Amazon for tights and sneakers and sunscreen – but don’t associate Amazon with the glamour of Hollywood. Of course they’d want the celebrity connection. As for the celebrity draw, beyond pure cash, well, Amazon is Jeff Bezos. Jeff Bezos is now a regular at the Golden Globes, the Oscars, and on Jeffrey Katzenberg’s yacht. There’s been celebrity courtship happening for a while. And, of course, Amazon has already moved into the content creation space. They just had their biggest win on Sunday night at the Emmys.
Fleabag is Amazon. Fleabag just won Outstanding Comedy, along with several other awards for Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
The next morning Amazon’s telling us about Jennifer Lawrence’s wedding registry ideas. Coincidence or conspiracy?
It’s the registry items, and the placemats and other knickknacks on Amazon the fund the series and the movies, just like it’s the eye shadows and the perfumes at Paris fashion houses that fund the haute couture. Is this a similar model? They do the makeup and fragrance ads and wear the nice clothes. They do the gift registries and end up in the movies and TV shows?