from The Washington Times
Celebrity Product Placement
You can read about, say, Madonna's Dolce and Gabanna bag that costs as much as your monthly mortgage payment, but will you ever be able to carry that tote? Fat chance. The $29 Crocs her son is wearing, however? Sure. With the cash you save, you might even be able to spring for the same $900 Bugaboo Orbit stroller as Nicole Richie.
There is no way a publicist is going to gift you with an $8,000 Birkin bag like Katie Holmes carries, but the $200 Burberry jumper her daughter Suri has been photographed wearing? By all means, your own little girl would look just as cute.
There is a perfect storm brewing in the tabloid world, and there is a good chance it is clad in Stride Rite shoes. Take a pushy pack of paparazzi and mix a slew of magazines and blogs with a celebrity-obsessed culture. Add to it the beautiful people, who are generally young. Young means fertile; fertile means a new crop of celebrity offspring every year.
Coverage begins with US Magazine's two-page "Bump Watch" feature, continues through a baby shower with gift bags that rival the Oscars, and by the time junior arrives, he's a celebrity style icon.
There is no bigger interview/photo in demand right this minute than Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's soon-to-be-born twins, says Pamela Paul, author of "Parenting, Inc: How We Are Sold On $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers – and What It Means for Our Children."
"It used to be that pregnancy was maternal, but not sexy," she says. "Expecting a baby is now a PR coup."
OK, so maybe your own pregnancy wasn't quite as sexy and free of stretch marks as Angelina's. Still, knowing that star babies need the same eating, sleeping, diapering and transporting accoutrements as your own progeny is a great common denominator, says Lisa Weber, founder of Celebritybabyscoop.com, one of several Web sites dedicated to all things celebrity baby.
"Having children humanizes celebrities," says Ms. Weber, mother of three young children. Her site gets more than 1 million hits a month, bringing in enough revenue for her to leave her job as a labor and delivery nurse.
"Seeing them with their kids is one of the main things we can connect with when it comes to celebrities. You can look at pictures and say, 'My kid has that stroller.'"
As the tabs would say, "Stars! They're just like us!"
Actually, much of what fans are seeing when it comes to celebrities and their children is the result of carefully orchestrated PR moves. Your own family may have that stroller or those shoes, but the reason it is the kids' best seller of the moment may have something to do with star kids in the first place.
Publicists know which celebrities like to be out and about with their kids in full view. There are huge missions to get cute T-shirts, high-style sippy cups and charming cardigans into the hands of those tots.
Melissa Lemer, co-owner of the Silver Spoon Entertainment Marketing in Los Angeles, devotes a large part of her business to making sure celebrities have the product of the moment. The Silver Spoon recently held its annual Dog and Baby Buffet, where Hollywood came to harvest this year's crop of freebies. Among them: Smart Mom Teething Bling, Gaga Gourmet all-natural baby food and hip T-shirts from a company called Tykeoon.
Ms. Lemer says a company cannot put a price tag on the boost it gets from a celebrity child wearing its stuff.
"It's huge," she says. "Celebrities get products as gifts, then they order a lot more. If Tori Spelling's son, Liam, is walking around in a shirt that says 'Rock Star,' that is going to be popular with little boys."
Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W PR, started a mom and baby division at his firm in 2006, shortly after sending a T-shirt on behalf of his client, Belly Maternity, to Miss Jolie who was still in Africa after giving birth to Shiloh. Shiloh was on the cover of People magazine wearing the shirt (after the magazine paid $5 million to Miss Jolie's charities to secure the photo shoot), and a sea change swept the celebrity baby world.
At the time, Mr. Torrosian called the move "celebrity product placement at its finest." A press release from 5W called it, in hyperbole only a PR professional could appreciate, "one of the most important product placement opportunities in the world."
Two years later, you can bet Mr. Torrosian is hoping the Jolie-Pitt twins will be snapped wearing something from a 5W client.
"My job is to maximize clients' value while lessening their spending," Mr. Torrosian said last week. "Like it or not, we live in a tabloid-centric world. A photo will capture eyeballs in the mass media. It's able to reach millions."
Mr. Torrosian says that soon after Britney Spears' first son was born, Miss Spears was photographed walking out of a store holding a stuffed toy his firm had sent to her.
"Sales went off the charts," he says. "Like it or not, people want to be like celebrities. You can't buy a $100,000 car, but you can buy a $60 shirt. You may not be able to dress like the star of the moment, but you can have your kid dress like their kid. At the same time, you are giving to your child, which people like to do. Even if the economy is tanking, kids' stuff seems to be recession proof."
Numbers show that sales of children's clothing at all price levels is on the rise. Sales of clothing for children younger than 3 grew 11.2 percent last year, compared with 2.9 percent for the overall apparel market, according NPD Group, a market research firm.
Ms. Paul agrees the trend will continue going strong. In the tradition of a Hollywood starlet, who is always looking over her shoulder as there is usually someone younger and cuter to take her place, so goes it with the celebrity baby. Every couple of months, there seems to be a new bundle of hot babies. Can't keep track? Celebritybabyscoop.com has an "expecting calendar" to help you remember who is due when.
"We're definitely seeing the stylization of childhood," Ms. Paul says. "In our parenting consumer culture, this extends to all accoutrements. It will continue strong and in force. I predict the next generation of parents will be even more ga-ga over celebrities."
Source: The Washington Times