Absolutely shocked that the deal between Ye – the performer/entrepreneur/designer/whatever formerly known as Kanye West – and Gap has collapsed and will end eight years early after barely two years together.
This one had catastrophe written all over it from the very start. A marriage made — in, well, I don’t know where such a marriage could have possibly been made other than at a bank – to connect two incredibly different partners seemed doomed from the first signature on the contract.
After all, this was a retailer best known for khakis, t-shirts and a one-time catchy slogan hooking up with a celebrity whose behavior sometimes bordered on the eccentric. (Anybody remember Kanye stealing the stage from Taylor Swift at the VMA ceremonies way back in 2009?) Certainly his actions since have been just as unpredictable from time to time, if not quite as nationally televised.
Which is why the deal with Gap seemed ill-fated and its premature end not terribly surprising. You have to wish them both well…they will need it for entirely different reasons to be sure.
But it does serve as yet one more reminder that when businesses connect with well-known personalities they sometimes do it at their own peril. Sure some of them are absolute sweetheart deals and end up being winners all around. And if you’re going to use Snoop Dog as the face of your brand, you know exactly what you’re getting into.
But could Hertz have expected OJ Simpson to become perhaps the all-time tabloid headliner following the deaths of his ex-wife and her boyfriend? An all-American football player accused of murder? Never happen…until it did. It tainted the Hertz brand for years in perhaps the most famous case of a branding campaign gone wrong.
But it certainly isn’t the only one. Remember James Garner as the spokesman for the beef industry, telling TV viewers “Steak, it’s what for dinner.” That worked until Garner had a heart attack and suddenly was not eating so much red meat anymore.
And then there was Tiger Woods. Following his driving and marital meltdowns, the legendary golfer was dropped by several licensees although he has resurrected his reputation more recently.
Even made-up personas are no longer safe. Long-time brand representations Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima have been both been retired, caught up in the Black Lives Matter movement. No one is seemingly safe, it appears.
We could go on, but you get the picture. Maybe Betty Crocker and the Pillsbury Dough Boy are above reproach but who knows what’s buried in their closets…or pantries.
Right now celebrity endorsers are one of the hottest trends in branding across the entire consumer products field. When Paris Hilton is schilling for Hilton Hotels (Actually, what took them so long to figure this out?) that puts it into perspective.
Gap will probably think long and hard about its next celebrity tie-in. Ye? Maybe not so much.