This hasn't been a good week for the celebrity product hawking industry. First there was Michael Phelps and the case of the bubbling bong. Now the brand called Chris Brown is under fire after allegations that the suave R&B singer Chris Brown left bruises on his girlfriend pop singer Rihanna Sunday night before the Grammys.
When I met with Stoute last year he made it clear he saw himself pioneering a new model between brands and bands. However when the musical bait and switch was revealed last summer (there's really a corporation behind this song!), the strategy backfired: many saw the deal as a deceptively lame attempt by a company trying to co-opt culture and an artist selling out.
Now, of course, the strategy has really backfired. Wrigleys will probably go into hibernation mode, recovering from the shock of making such a bad bet on a personality. Between Brown and Phelps, brand managers across Madison Avenue are being reminded that even glossy celebs--who in marketing are typically regarded as expensive, but safe and efficient--are probably more dicey now than throwing their budgets into some Alternate Reality Game.