Goop, Rachael Ray, Pepsi and Newman’s Own
Celebrity food brands are an evergreen area, with three overall brand strategy approaches to explore. These brand strategy examples demonstrate each approach.
Celebrity Food Brand Strategy Examples Approach 1: Celebrity Endorser or “Face,” with Rotating Celebrities Over Time
A time-tested brand strategy for food and beverage brands is celebrity endorsement. Under this approach, the celebrity is hired by the food and beverage manufacturer to endorse the brand. According to Delish, nine of the largest-paying food and beverage endorsements include:
- Nespresso: Matt Damon, $3 million for 20-second commercial
- Nespresso: George Clooney, $40 million for commercials
- Heineken Light: Neil Patrick Harris, $4 million as “the face” of Heineken Light
- McDonald’s: Justin Timberlake, $6 million for “I’m lovin’ it” song
- Diet Coke: Taylor Swift, $26 million for “endorsement deal”
- 7UP: DJ Tiesto, $30 million for 7X7 campaign
- Pepsi: Britney Spears, $50 million for commercials
- Pepsi: Beyoncé, $50 million for commercials and promotional appearances
- Vitamin Water: 50 Cent, between $60-$100 million as the “face” of the company
Several of these brands, including Nespresso, Pepsi, and McDonald’s work with more than one celebrity over time. As may be expected, the brand will substitute in a new celebrity as a celebrity’s popularity fades or to bring a new dimension to their brand that a particular celebrity delivers.
Pepsi Pursues a Youth Focus
Pepsi provides a good brand strategy example of a celebrity endorser. The drink brand historically positioned itself as “the choice of a new generation” and aligned with popular culture, beginning with Michael Jackson in 1984. This approach continued with a number of other celebrities including Cindy Crawford, Kylie Minogue, Robert Palmer, Tina Turner, David Bowie, Lionel Richie, Glen Frey, Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, Madonna, Gloria Estefan and Michael J. Fox.
Pepsi’s youth focus means that as a celebrity ages, he or she is likely to be replaced by a more youthful alternative. To be sure, there could be the exceptional older celebrity who is on-brand for Pepsi.
Celebrity Food Brand Strategy Examples Approach 2: Celebrity Product Design, Name on Product Line and Charitable Cause Support
A long-tenured example for integral celebrity involvement in product design is the Newman’s Own line of food and beverage products. This brand was created in 1982, starting with a balsamic salad dressing that Paul Newman and author A.E. Hotchner developed. This was a dressing that the pair made themselves, and when asked to produce more for gifts, the opportunity to take a cause-related approach was identified.
The Newman’s Own brand’s core promise is to give “100% of the royalties and profits” from the sale of the products for charitable purposes.
The brand was built without advertising, using Paul Newman’s face on the package as an endorsement, and various charitable tie-ins.
Newman’s Own brand’s product lines have included salad dressing (the starting product), salsa, pasta sauces, lemonade and microwave popcorn.
With Paul Newman’s death in 2008, his popularity is likely reduced, but the brand endures. According to Statista, some 26 million US consumers used the salad dressing in the past 30 days in November 2020.
A somewhat different (but related) second example of a celebrity creating “high-quality-food-brands-for-a-cause” is Kristen Bell.
Kristen Bell’s This Bar Saves Lives food bar sales proceeds are used to donate food bars to malnourished children in Haiti and South Africa. In this case, Kristen Bell’s name is not on the bar.
There is also a long list of celebrities who are producing “higher-quality” food products, some of whom have a play on the celebrity’s name in the product name, such as Sugarpova and Bongiovi and others who have a different brand name, such as Once Upon a Farm.
- Jon Bon Jovi: Bongiovi Pasta Sauces. Supports the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation’s fight against hunger
- Maria Sharapova: Sugarpova: high-end gummy candy and chocolates. Made with “natural ingredients” for “guilt free indulgence”
- Joe Perry: Joe Perry’s Rock Your World Hot Sauce, with Boneyard Brew
- Jennifer Garner: Once Upon a Farm: kids’ food pouches that use only organic fruits and vegetables
Celebrity Food Brand Strategy Example Approach 3: Lifestyle with “Better” Choices
An aspirational lifestyle that the celebrity embodies is another time-tested approach to brand strategy. In this approach, the celebrity’s name or a version of it, is typically used on the product line.
Two brand strategy examples are Rachael Ray, who uses her names on her product lines, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who created the Goop lifestyle brand.
Gwyneth Paltrow Inspires Healthy Living with Goop
Goop, “whose name means nothing and everything,” is derived from the celebrity’s initials. Gwyneth Paltrow started it as a newsletter in 2008. The brand’s focus is on “cutting-edge wellness” and curated beauty, fashion and home products.
Goop began selling products in 2014. By 2017, Goop sales grew to around $60 million, up from $15 million in 2016. Despite some missteps around false claims in advertising, Goop attracted considerable investment, and was on track for $120 million in 2018 sales. Goop also promises charitable contributions from its profits, though the amounts are not specified.
Goop continues to expand. As of March 2021 in Los Angeles, Goop’s food and beverage products are now available from Goop Kitchen, which promises “healthy takeout” that’s “Goop Certified Clean (GCC)” with “no processed sugars, processed foods, gluten, soy, dairy, peanuts or preservatives. Sustainability is core to the Goop Kitchen brand strategy, both in the ingredients used and in the recyclable packaging. Reviews to date are positive, with a 4.0 Yelp rating.
Rachael Ray Empowers the Busy, Non-Chef
A second brand strategy example is Rachael Ray, who created a lifestyle brand that is about “quick and easy” cooking, with simple recipes. Ray’s background includes considerable experience in the food industry, despite “not being a chef.” Her mother managed restaurants, and Ray bought for specialty food brands, ran a pub, and bought for a food retailer.
She developed “30 Minute Meals” initially as a cooking class for a gourmet market, and then brought her brand strategy to author cookbooks, appear on the Today show and host the Food Network. Her cookbooks include:
- 30 Minute Meals (1999)
- Rachael Ray’s Look and Cook (2010)
- Comfort Food: Rachael Ray’s Top 30-Minute Meals (2014)
- Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life: A Cookbook (2019)
The Rachael Ray brand offers a wide variety of cookware, bakeware and kitchen tools. There is also a charitable component. Like Newman’s Own, the profits from Rachael Ray’s Nutrish line of dog food products go to support a charitable cause. In this case, the profits support Rachael’s Rescue, for at-risk animals.
Bethany Frankel and SkinnyGirl
A third lifestyle example is Bethany Frankel, who created SkinnyGirl: cocktails, snacks and salad dressing for a svelte woman’s lifestyle.
These celebrity food brand strategy examples illustrate different approaches, from basic endorsement to full product design and lifestyle.
While celebrity restaurants are a time-tested concept, the Goop Kitchens’ approach to home delivery using cloud kitchens is a new twist that we can expect to see more of as a trend.