Almost all celebrities have something to peddle. Developing (or at least putting their name on) products can provide a lucrative secondary profit stream. Launching a successful project, however, takes more than just a famous name to get it off the ground and to get fans to open their wallets. Celebrities have their fair share of product flops, too. Here are five of the largest ones.
Hip hop singer Kanye West launched a women's clothing line called Dw in 2011. The line debuted during Paris Fashion Week in October and was roundly panned by critics. The collection barely got out of the gate before stumbling. There are lots of reasons for West's failure, and not all of them have to do with the clothes. He is still snubbed in many circles for jumping on stage and grabbing the microphone from a startled Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Kanye's subsequent rant about how Beyonce should have won didn't endear him to anyone in the audience. On top of that, West priced his clothing line higher than any other celebrity line, keeping it out of the range of most fans' pocketbooks. Even though the line flopped, Kanye vows to take another run at it this fall with a new line.
JLo is one of the most successful business owners among the celebrity set. Lopez has also had her share of business failures. Two of her clothing lines have ceased production. The first, called JLo by Jennifer Lopez, was launched in 2001 as a junior miss collection of casual wear. It sold well around the world until 2007, when it was abruptly shut down and replaced by a new juniors' line called JustSweet, which closed down in 2009, along with her Sweetface line, a higher-end collection for women. Although public announcements of the "hiatus" simply stated that Lopez would redesign and rethink her designs in the future, it was widely known at the time that PETA was frequently shadowing her to protest her use of fur, both personally and in her Sweetface line. Although JLo still sells outside the U.S., Lopez has not released another major fashion collection since. In 2002, Lopez also opened a Latin cuisine restaurant in Pasadena, Calif. called Madres. In 2008, shortly after the birth of her twins, the restaurant abruptly closed without any official announcement. It is believed that the restaurant had been losing money for some time.
In the late '80s and early '90s, Hulk Hogan had his face plastered on everything from lunchboxes to action figures to toothbrushes. In 1995, Hogan opened an Italian restaurant in the Mall of America to capitalize on his celebrity fame. He poured in his own capital and the eatery was heavily advertised through the World Wrestling Federation. Despite the hype, the restaurant was dead in less than a year, having suffered fatal cash flow burns.
The Kardashian Gang
In 2010, the fun-loving and hard-partying Kardashians decided to jump into the financial products market by introducing their own prepaid debit card. The target market for the card was their fans. The card had to be purchased for around $100 and had a monthly fee as well as additional fees every time the card was loaded, bills were paid or the customer spoke to a company representative. The card didn't sell well and soon the Connecticut Attorney General began to investigate the high fees. The card was quickly shut down and the Kardashians pretended it never happened.
Restaurants can come and go quickly, but the demise of Britney Spears' Manhattan restaurant, NYLA, took less than six months. NYLA (a combination of New York and Louisiana) opened in June 2002, focusing on Cajun dishes from Spears' home state of Louisiana. The chef had other ideas, however, and began to swap out the menu for more Italian-style food. The reputation of the restaurant quickly plunged, but the death blow was the chronic health code violations. Although a new chef was brought in to turn the place around, it was too late and Spears bailed on the whole venture. At 21 years old, she did not have the experience to manage the restaurant in any meaningful way.
The Bottom Line
An instantly-recognizable face and a throng of adoring fans doesn't ensure the success of celebrity products. Like any other business, these products need consistent management, a clear business plan and a workable growth strategy.