You may have already had a big luxurious eye roll at celebrities as "creative directors" of companies: Justin Timberlake as "creative director" for Bud Light Platinum, Joey Bada$$ for Ecko Unltd, Ne-Yo for Malibu liquor, and scads more.
I can understand the logic behind it. On the surface, it's a PR win-win: companies create the impression that they're soliciting the genuine creative input of celebrities rather than simply paying them to hawk a product; celebrities, along with their huge bags of money, get a prestigious fake job title rather than a traditional descriptor like "spokesperson." (Or, in the case of avowed Apple diehard and BlackBerry creative director Alicia Keys, "shill.")
The failing of the strategy, if there is one, is that nobody even pretends to believe it. Press reports of new celebrity creative directors are usually written with a wink at the very least. Editorials on the matter haven't been positive: Fortune called it "corrosive" and "a distraction." Techdirt columnist Mike Masnick said, "The idea that these celebrities have 'jobs' as 'creative directors' is just silly. . . . It's actually something of an insult to people who actually do have jobs as creative directors."
All but the dimmest consumers understand that in the world of traditional business operations, "creative director" is an actual thing — an actual thing that Victoria Beckham probably isn't doing for Range Rover. Nobody believes that Justin Timberlake is pacing a conference room at the Anheuser-Busch building right now, critiquing mockups for a new billboard campaign. Why not? For one thing, he's probably busy doing his actual job, which is singing songs. If not that, he's probably doing one of this other actual jobs, like being the creative director of MySpace and the creative director of Callaway Golf Shit (no, that's the actual name of the company, I looked it up).
But there's exciting news in the world of celebrity creative directors: Lupe Fiasco might just be the first real one. A new health app called Higi (rhymes with "Ziggy," they say, but I'm calling it "Hi, guy!") has announced that the rapper had signed on as their creative director. Amazingly, he's taking the job seriously. "The dope part about this, other than just being creative director, is adding value to this company, because it adds value to the world," Lupe told Billboard Biz.
No, more seriously than that, even. In its seemingly straight-faced ending, the Billboard piece seemed to take Lupe at his word: "Lupe is already hard at work on his next record . . . but Higi will take priority over his creative projects. 'This is like my normal job,' he says. 'I'm still doing the rapper thing, but I got a legit 9 to 5 now.' "
Is it for real? Because it sort of looks like Lupe Fiasco just announced that he's putting rap on the back burner to concentrate on his job at a mobile app startup. I'm not trying to imply that Lupe isn't qualified to do this stuff, but really? I can see a few possibilities here:
1) That Lupe Fiasco is bullshitting, and this is the last time you'll hear him talk about Higi.
2) That Lupe Fiasco is Higi's celebrity spokesperson, but he's sincerely excited about contributing some ideas and wants to stress that he's a legitimate part of the company.