Amongst hoards of celebrity skincare lines, and the ever-present celebrity clothing line, a new role has emerged: the celebrity creative director. From Lady Gaga to Rihanna, some of today’s most high profile celebrities also hold the title “creative director”. But it’s hard to imagine some of these “creative directors” swapping out red carpets for a corporate role.
Typically, more than just an advertising face, a creative director has a more formal job in charge of deciding the vision and style of a brand. While different at every company, the role comes with more responsibilities and commitment as well as professional and educational experience.
`But whether it’s Kate Moss and Diet Coke, Kendall Jenner with FRWD, and Emily Ratajkowski with Loops. This just seems like a way of putting the same models on the same campaigns with a new headline.
The term “creative director” alludes to something with more sustenance, it puts a more educated and nuanced meaning to the relationship between the celebrity and the company. While it’s almost assumed when scrolling through Instagram that any brand endorsement is completely fake, attaching the term “creative director” implies active engagement in product development and advertising. Giving celebrities the title of creative director is a way to endorse a brand without seeming fake, all the while boosting sales and engagement.
And in fashion, the creative director role is generally one of the most coveted. Containing all the figures revered as greats, Givenchy, Balenciaga, St.Laurent, and now… Molly Mae Hague? Hague is a reality tv contestant from the Netflix show Love Island. Hague was named creative director of the fast fashion brand Pretty Little Thing in 2021, sparking intense controversy over her lack of credentials for the role.
It’s fully understandable, however, why companies choose celebrities such as Moss, Jenner, and Hague. For Hague, her 8 million Instagram followers are built-in free advertisements for Pretty Little Thing, and for Jenner, that number is almost 300 million (to put that in perspective the US population is 330 million). For what they lack in experience, it’s plausible to say they make up for in following. Not only are these brands picking celebrities for their appeal but also their fan base.
However, not to be derisive, but surely with the prior commitments of such high-profile candidates, someone is picking up the slack under the “creative director” role. But is that said person getting the same deserved recognition and job opportunity that would otherwise be provided for them, under the title of creative director? And further can hiring a celebrity purely for hype be justified over hiring someone with adept credentials?
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of SKIMS, Guest In Residence, Rare Beauty, Good American, and Kylie Cosmetics, making it hard to tell a serious corporate venture into the business world from a celebrity gimmick.
However, it’s not all bad, some successfully start brands that garner respect beyond their celebrity status, like The Row (Olsen twins). The brand’s understated luxury and lack of flashy advertisement leave the consumers with high-quality basics, which you might never know were designed by the Olsen twins.
But in the be-all and end-all, I think the prevailing question is whether the brand itself is desirable or if it’s just the fleeting association with celebrity culture. It seems that in the majority of cases, the “creative director” label is just a different way of associating the same trendy models, actors, and musicians with brands to which they have no real relation, or contribution otherwise.