Borrowed credentials is a term I like to use when a brand “borrows” something or someone to identify with, such as a brand name or a person as the endorser.
The intent is the “approval” or “license” to give a brand some prominence. But, more often than not, it doesn’t seem to work.
Three categories will help you to see where I’m going:
- A brand that has licensed the name from another business or category. Godiva, for example.
- A brand closely identified with a star or celebrity. Such as, Ciroc.
- (My favorite) A brand named after a star or celebrity.
So here we go…
Licensed Brand Name
The two that come most readily to mind are Godiva and Starbuck’s, both in the liqueur category. I gotta tell you that I thought Godiva would be a crack-of-the-bat homerun. And, I wanted to license Starbuck’s so badly, I could taste it. Alas, neither has set the world on fire.
Association with a star or celebrity
This is a mixed bag best characterized by the nursery rhyme… “There once was a girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good but when she was bad she was horrid.”
So in the “good” category we have (not necessarily in order of goodness):
- Ciroc and P Diddy (forgive me if I have the wrong name; who can keep up?). Probably the gold standard in celebrity links.
- Crystal Head Vodka and Dan Aykroyd — talk about chutzpah.
- Cabo and Sammy Hagar — (notice I didn’t say Cabo Wabo) good for you Skyy, it’s about the product not the star.
- Red Stag and Kid Rock — the brand is a homerun with or without him. But he sure does help.
- Margaritaville and Jimmy Buffett — remind me to tell how this came about. But even without Seagram and me, it’s doing well. But, Land Shark beer is doing even better.
The “not so good” entries I’ve come up with so far (let me know about any I’ve missed) include some that faded faster than a cold beer on a hot day:
- 901 Tequila and Justin Timberlake — run that by me again? I got it but I don’t get it.
- Sobieski Vodka and Bruce Willis — it’s the price point, dummy. It ain’t about you. Even if you’re still involved.
- Godfather Vodka — You got to be joking.
- Conjure Cognac — by Ludacris. I totally agree but ludicrous is spelled wrong.
- Armadale Vodka — by Jay Z. Why don’t you ask P Diddy how it’s done?
- 3 Vodka — by Jermaine Dupri. Enough said.
- Mansinthe — by Marilyn Manson. I didn’t make this up, folks.
Named after a star or celebrity
My favorites by far. Do I hear a drum roll?
So far I covered the good and the bad. Here comes the ugly:
- Trump Vodka. He doesn’t even drink for heaven’s sake. Could be a pilot for Celebrity Booze.
- Willie Nelson’s Old Whiskey River Bourbon. Enough said.
- Danny Devito’s Limoncello. Close but no cigars.
- Jefferson and Sam Houston Bourbon. Not kidding; Google it.
- Frida Kahlo Tequila. I love her and her work but… who dun it?
And the winner is…
- McMahon Vodka. Would have worked with a name like, “Here’s… Johnny.”
None of the top selling brands have borrowed credentials…unless you count Captain Morgan.
I would like to meet the people behind some of these efforts, there’s a bridge they might be interested in buying.
Where would the spirits industry be without brands to pour off?
What’s next…the Lindsey Lohan Liqueur?