Companies do a lot of things to stay profitable. But why  hire a celebrity in critical role like Creative Director?  Because some of companies are really struggling. Unortunately, the cons most definitely outweigh the pros. Here’s why:


Celebrities only distract the company’s main outreach. Of course there is going to be a handful of people that think it’s a great idea, but let’s look at the overall picture. Last year, Alicia Keys last year was appointed Creative Director of Blackberry. She left after a year. Why?


Blackberry had no comment as to why Keys left, but the numbers do not lie. In 2013, Blackberry sold phones like Robin Thicke’s album. No units moved. To add to the struggle, Keys made very few appearances for Blackberry’s events.  They fired their  CEO Thorsten Heins as a power move.   They lost $1 billion that year and had to get rid of 40% of their workforce worldwide. It was a disaster. But they should have seen it coming. Keys “accidentally” sent out a tweet from an iPhone a few days after being appointed Creative Director.

Blackberry needs design to save their products, not Alicia Keys’ misinformed tweets.  Blackberry needs to  connect with culture, and ask what the consumers want, instead of creating products that feel good, but don’t serve a purpose.


Another company trying to regain the public’s interest is Polaroid. Lady Gaga was appointed Creative Director for Polaroid in 2010. Polaroid has obviously has lost touch with who they were as a company. They created products that were not user friendly, for example these camera sunglasses they collaborated on with Gaga.  Yeah, that’s an actual product.  They’ve lost touch with reality, and continue to struggle as brand.

…but it’s not all bad.


I’m not saying that I have the solution to these companies that are struggling. But, we can look at companies that are succeeding. Apple is winning because they connect with culture. They don’t design products that are the cheapest to produce in order to push out more inventory. They design products for lifestyle, school, work, and home. They take the time to perfect their product until it’s ready for release.

[Tweet “Quality, consistency, and simplicity. That’s how you win. “]


Let’s look at social media platforms. Who is the rising star of 2014? Instagram, by far. They focus on the user and the convenience of the product for them. They continue to evolve with culture. They  stay ahead of the game with  researching and perfecting user experience. Their cofounder Kevin Systrom explains sees their strategy as expanding moments in time;

“Right now, we define photos and video as the basis for a moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add the location of the moment, the time of the moment, who you were with, who is in the photo — all these storytelling outlets, I think, are very important for Instagram… I mean we really are about storytelling through a visual medium.”


What can tech companies gain from this? Design and user experience are the top two qualities of these companies. You don’t need a celebrity to be a creative director for you. They only go as far as essentially only being spokespeople for your brand. And when they do contribute, if at all, how much relevance can they supply to you if they don’t understand your product in the first place?  There’s so much work that goes int0 building sustainable tech companies, why take a risk on seek after celebrities who don’t align with your vision?

Design, connecting with culture, and creating beautiful user interfaces.  That’s how the best do it, and why they continue to win. Nothing more, and definitely nothing less.