The Future of Partnerships: Celebrities Working For Major Brands

Celebrity brand partnerships are evolving beyond endorsements and #sponcon.

A growing number of brands are finding new ways to work with celebrities and public figures including having them come on board as advisors or employees and exchanging equity as payment for collaborations.

Celebrity New Hires

Recently, Delta Air Lines announced Tom Brady would be brought on as a strategic adviser. Per Delta’s official statement, Brady would be involved in strategic initiatives involving Delta’s employees and customers.

What does that mean exactly? Delta hopes some of Brady’s teamwork and leadership skills will rub off on their employees. According to Fast Company, Brady will take on a consultant-type role working with Delta to develop training and team-building materials for employees and support some marketing initiatives.

Only time will tell if the ROI is fruitful for Delta, though it makes sense that Brady would be seeking long-term partnerships to keep him busy now that he’s no longer playing in the NFL.

Similarly, Sofia Richie Grainge joined the Nudestix team as the brand’s first Beauty Director in 2022. In this role, Grainge supports the development of new products, brand growth, and community-building. Graine has also invested in the brand.

Recent figures suggest the partnership with Grainge has been fruitful for Nudestix. Earlier this year, when Grainge quickly gained popularity on TikTok after the extensive coverage of her wedding, the Nudestix products used by Grainge’s makeup artist on her wedding day saw a 2,849% spike in sales.

Pay Me in Equity

Some celebrities are opting out of cash payments in favor of equity in the companies they work with. In 2015 Beyoncé famously turned down $6M cash from Uber to perform at a corporate event, instead taking the payment in equity which was valued at $300M in 2019.

Ryan Reynolds made a similar move in 2018, acquiring a stake in Aviation Gin. By 2020, Aviation Gin sold for $610M and Reynolds has since stayed on board as a spokesperson.

As the entertainment industry becomes increasingly precarious for entertainers given labor strikes and constraints on monetizing their work and advertisers who may not have as many opportunities for placement, evolved brand-celebrity partnerships could be an appealing way to supplement lost income and opportunities.

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