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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Celebrities Head For The Board Room

Hip hop artist will.i.am is pictured holding Intel's Ultrabook. He has a new gig as director of creative innovation at Intel. (intel.com)

Hip hop artist will.i.am is pictured holding Intel’s Ultrabook. He has a new gig as director of creative innovation at Intel. (intel.com)

Hip hop artist will.i.am has a new gig as director of creative innovation at Intel.

Alicia Keys is creative director for BlackBerry.

And Justin Timberlake got a job as creative and musical curator for Bud Light Platinum.

It seems celebrities are no longer happy to just film a commercial for companies, and collect their paychecks. Nowadays, they want to help design the brand.

Here & Now media analyst John Carroll says this is an example of the convergence of marketing and content.

Thorsten Heins, CEO of Research in Motion, introduces Alicia Keys as the Global Creative director of BlackBerry, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 in New York. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Thorsten Heins, CEO of Research in Motion, introduces Alicia Keys as the Global Creative director of BlackBerry, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 in New York. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

“Coke, Pepsi, Starbucks – they’re not just products – they’re lifestyle and culture brands,” Carroll said. “They’re building celebrities into the DNA of their content.”

Case in point, both will.i.am and Alicia Keys are producing songs and videos during their tours that directly tie into the companies’ products.

Will.i.am is planning to produce a song in each city he visits during a worldwide tour, using his Intel-powered laptop.

And Keys is asking fans to send her photos from their BlackBerries that she’ll include in upcoming videos.

But sometimes these creative matches can backfire. Keys has been criticized for tweeting from her iPhone, while publicly promoting BlackBerry.

And when Justin Timberlake was tapped for Bud Light Platinum, pictures surfaced of him drinking Coors Light. Bud Light Platinum smartly responded on Twitter: “Justin may have dated other beers but he’s married to Platinum.”

South African “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius, provides another cautionary tale. When he was arrested and charged in the killing of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, Nike was forced to drop him from their brand.

Despite the downsides, Carroll predicts the trend of bringing celebrity endorsers into the board room is here to stay.

“This is the way that all content is moving forward,” Carroll said.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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