Companies frequently sign celebrities to help endorse their products, and MLM companies are no exception. When I was in the business, Amway used to sell a product called the Shaq Bar, a snack bar with the image of Shaquille O’Neal on the box. At the time, he played for the Orlando Magic which is owned to this day by the DeVos family (founders of Amway). I’d like to think the Shaq bar was discontinued because it tasted so bad, but it’s probably because Shaq left to play for the Lakers.
Lately, Amway has signed on more celebrities to assist in its marketing efforts: Ronaldinho and the AC Milan soccer team for Nutrilite, Sandra Bullock for Artistry, and most recently, John Tesh and Connie Selleca. In addition, they are sponoring a number of high-profile events such as the Tina Turner tour, as well as pumping millions of dollars into print, web, and television advertising. I was always told that the IBOs were such good marketers that Amway didn’t need to market through traditional means, so why the big change all of the sudden? On the MonaVie front, the purple juice is being hawked by the Boston Red Sox and the Cannondale Bike Racing Team.
What does each party get out of the deal? For celebrities, signing an endorsement deal can mean big money, not to mention free products for the lifetime of their contract. The company gets the big-name with which it can use to say, “Hey, so-and-so uses our products, so you should too!”
Does the fact that your favorite television, movie, or sports star endorses a company legitimize that company in your eyes and make you more likely to buy from the its products? Supporters of Amway are quick to say that if Amway were a scam, why is it that they have the support of the business community and celebrities?
At the end of the day, I think it’s about money, pure and simple. “You help me, and I’ll help you,” is the way many of these deals work. As long as each party doesn’t get into trouble, they’ll continue the relationship. Sometimes, however, these business deals go bad. When celebrities get into trouble with the law, companies are quick to cut the deal, as we’ve seen with Michael Vick and Marion Jones. It works in reverse too. This past week, GM/Buick announced that they were cancelling the endorsement deal with Tiger Woods. I wonder if the cancellation was actually initiated on Woods’ behalf, seeing that the automotive industry is in such dire straits.
As for Amway, I recall them having a deal with MCI and even starting up a deal with Enron in the late 90s. Diamonds would say on stage how one day you would be able to get all of your utilities through Amway: gas, electric, phone, and Internet. Then, without much warning or explanation, the Enron deal was cancelled. For Amway, that was probably a very good move, as we all know how the Enron saga eventually turned out.
What are your thoughts on celebrity endorsements?