Chris Christie, Honey Boo Boo, And The Top 10 Celebrity Branding Success Stories Of 2012

Here is our 2012 Top Ten List Celebrity Branding Success Stories, celebrating those notables who best exemplified a specific and crucial facet of building a successful personal brand.

Chris Christie, Honey Boo Boo, And The Top 10 Celebrity Branding Success Stories Of 2012

As another year comes to a close, everyone is posting all kinds of 2012 Top Ten Lists. Don’t believe us? Well, if you happen to have a few minutes during the holiday rush, here are 55 of them, courtesy of Time magazine.


Frankly, we can’t resist the temptation to offer one of our own–focusing on our own specialty, of course. Without further ado, here is our 2012 Top Ten List Celebrity Branding Success Stories, celebrating those notables who best exemplified a specific and crucial facet of building a successful personal brand.

10. Honey Boo Boo

There’s no question that TLC reality superstar Honey Boo Boo captured the nation’s heart this year–and we think that’s because this little girl and her family exemplified the personal branding quality of authenticity–if not the qualities of good nutrition (check out their “sketti” recipe and then contemplate their cholesterol counts!). Honey and her homies were always themselves, no matter what the situation–and that includes their pet pig, Glitzy! It wasn’t for everybody, but it was for a huge number of TV viewers.

9. Chris Christie

Many conservatives lost their mind when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was shown giving some love to President Obama a week before the Presidential election, but actually, Christie was giving himself a co-branding advantage. Co-branding is when two unlikely brands combine forces (think of James Bond and Heineken teaming up in Skyfall) to broaden their bases and gain more exposure. In Christie’s case, his bipartisan effort with Obama after Hurricane Sandy sparked a 19-point rise in his approval rating, bringing it to record-breaking heights.


8. James Bond

Speaking of James Bond, no matter what he’s drinking these days, 007 has proven himself to be one celebrity brand that never quits. As a matter of fact, his latest screen adventure is his most popular ever, and that’s quite an accomplishment after a half century of movie heroics. Why is he still so successful? Because the producers haven’t been afraid to move him forward with some solid brand evolution. The film successfully captures 2012 sensibilities, even though Bond originated during The Cold War in the 1950s. When a brand stands still, it gets left in the past. When a brand stays contemporary, it can continue to connect.

7. Lana Del Rey

Singer Lana Del Rey first burst onto the scene in 2011 as a YouTube sensation, and her unique musical style caused people to either love her or hate her. She appeared visibly uncomfortable during a musical performance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live last year, which made more music aficionados question her professionalism and authenticity. However, she didn’t let any of this backlash stop her–and her new album has actually gotten her some respect. By showing integrity when it came to her core brand, she overcame the hate and established herself as a comer.

6. The Obama Campaign

Last month, Obama won a bigger victory than expected–many attributed the high turnout in his favor to his campaign’s savvy use of social media. 45% of registered voters said they were motivated to vote by Facebook, Twitter and the like, indicating the increased importance of using these social sites to promote any celebrity brand.


5. Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas became a superstar at the London Summer Olympics with her record-breaking gymnastic feats. Sometimes a celebrity brand is sparked simply by an incredible display of high performance; whether you break world records or sales records, your audience is bound to take notice.

4. The Avengers

This Marvel-ous superhero movie became the biggest hit of 2012, but that success was actually several years in the making. The Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and Thor movies first introduced the team members in their own hit films, plus each teased the forthcoming Avengers film with appearances by group ringleader Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson). This is a shining example of how a solid brand strategy can multiply brand success.

3. Kony 2012

In early March, if you were even a casual user of social media, you couldn’t get away from the viral video Kony 2012, as millions of people around the globe were sharing it. A poll suggested that over half of American young adults had heard of the video within days of its release. The video, which promoted the cause of the San Diego-based organization Invisible Children, demonstrated just what effective storytelling is capable of–which is why we consider it the most powerful personal branding tool (and which is also why we’re writing a book about it!).


2. Jeremy Lin

In February of 2012, “Linsanity” hit the Big Apple–when Jeremy Lin, a player who was about to be cut by the New York Knicks, suddenly became the team’s star player, with a series of awesome games in which he made the difference between a win and a loss. When you can successfully engineer that kind of unexpected shock and awe demonstration, you surprise your competition, delight your intended audience, and instantly create a memorable celebrity brand.

1. The Mayans

How can a culture that hit its peak more than a thousand years ago grab tons of publicity all year long? Easy: just predict the end of the world (or not). Yes, if you want to really draw an awesome amount of attention to your celebrity brand, simply make an apocalyptic prediction. There, of course, is only one problem with this approach: Every single doom-and-gloom forecast, so far anyway, has been wrong (and here’s another Top 10 list to prove it). And let’s face it–even if you do get lucky and hit it right, you’re not really going to have a lot of time to enjoy your newfound fame. Better to stick with the branding ideas in the previous nine entries!

Have a happy and prosperous holiday season–and here’s hoping your personal brand yields some excellent dividends in 2013!


JW Dicks (@jwdicks) & Nick Nanton (@nicknanton) are best-selling authors who consult for small- and medium-sized businesses on how to build their business through personality driven marketing, personal brand positioning, guaranteed media, and mining hidden business assets. They offer free articles, white papers, and case studies at

[Photo Mash: Joel Arbaje]


About the author

An Emmy Award Winning Director and Producer, Nick Nanton, Esq., is known as the Top Agent to Celebrity Experts around the world for his role in developing and marketing business and professional experts, through personal branding, media, marketing and PR. Nick is recognized as the nation’s leading expert on personal branding as Fast Company Magazine’s Expert Blogger on the subject and lectures regularly on the topic at at major universities around the world


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