Category: Celebrities

Celebrity Endorsements: Mobile Apps

Celebrity endorsement is defined as a form of brand or advertising campaign that involves a well known person using their fame to help promote a product or service. The technique has been around for a while and continues to be used today in a variety of industries – despite the fact that consumers are getting smarter and know that often money, not quality, is the primary motivator for these deals.

Obscene amounts of money are often involved, which is why this whole affair has turned into a carefully calculated science with things like the Davie-Brown index, which measures a celebrity’s ability to influence brand affinity and purchase intent (doesn’t it sound like an old-school Klout?).

While we may have heard about major deals like David Beckham’s estimated $160 million endorsement of Adidas, what have we come across regarding celebrity endorsements for mobile apps?

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Lady Gaga-dget at CES

No better example of the convergence between pop and mobile technology comes to mind than that of Lady Gaga gracing her prescence at this year’s CES.


Polaroid unveiled the launch of a new product line called “Grey Label” in conjuction with the Gaga. Together they demonstrated three key products, with more to come down the pipeline.

1) PolarPrinter GL10 Instant Mobile Printer

It uses the existing ZINK technology, but this one runs on a rechargeable lo-ion battery and connects to cameras via USB or Bluetooth. The ZINK paper, appropriately named as it contains “zero-ink”, comes in packs of 10 and is composed of tiny crystals which indivdually heat up and release dye at different degrees to form the resulting image.


This is great for multiple reasons. (1) It requires no ink. I have a printer at home which I have not been able to use in over 4 years because I cannot be bothered to buy ink. Crystals are cool though.

(2) We woo and coo about how digital photos are so special because “they last forever”. But, umm, I kinda delete all 5 remaining photos on my BlackBerry every time I want to take a 6th because “memory is insufficient”. It would have been nice to have printed them out on the spot.

Technology is sometimes like fashion where old trends re-surface but in new ways (*cough* failure of 3D *cough*). The 80′s may have been back in 2010 with an American Apparel twist, but baby, printers are making a comeback in 2011 – without the hassle of cables and ink. It’s all in the cloud…

The printer is expected to launch in May and retail at $149. When it launches, there will also be an Android app that allows you to make finishing touches.

GL30 Instant Camera

It’s basically a digital camera…with a built-in 3″*4″ ZINK printer and an uber-retro feel. Say “Fromagio” Alejandro.

PolarEZ GL20 Camera Glasses

These are not your grandmother’s sunglasses.

These (supposedly) fashionable sunglasses have an integrated digital camera and a 1.7″ LCD screen. You basically look at what you want to capture, whether in photo or video form, then press a button and BAM.

As the Lady explains herself, this is great for concert-goers and partyers on a sunny day who want to freeze a moment in time – one that would have elapsed in the 7 seconds it would take to whip out the camera and turn the power button on.

(Insert obligatory poker face reference here).

I remember being arond 7 years old, in the playground, and I would look around me and pretend that if I blinked really hard, my brain would snap an image of what I was looking at it and would store it for life. Ok, so we’re not quite there yet…but close.


According to Polaroid, “only Lady Gaga could create a hybrid that’s part fashion statement, part revolutionary technology, and part tool for self-expression.” Truer words have never been spoken.

As “mobile” pop princess, I sense a duty to expand the topic of this blog to beyond cell phones. It’s not just phones anymore that are becoming wireless, digital and “smart”, but an entire array of consumer items such as printers, cars, blenders, cameras and heck, even sunglasses. And to be honest, a mobile phone is not really a phone anymore - it’s your mobile device.

SMS and scandals: the case of Tiger Woods

How would life be different without mobile phones?

Well for one thing, Tiger Woods would be $750 million richer and a much happier man. He would also still be a sponsor for AT&T (wait – maybe not if there are no mobile phones in this hypothetical scenario).

For those of you who keep up to date with celebrity scandals you’ll know that text messaging played a key role in how his wife discovered his extra-marital affair(s), a catastrophe that made headlines for months thereafter.

Source: NYDailyNews,com

Tiger Woods came home one night and warned his wife, Elin Nordegren, that the National Enquirer was about to run a story on an alleged love affair between him and “nightclub manager” Rachel Uchitel. He claimed the rumor was entirely false and even got the two women to talk on the phone for half an hour so Rachel could convince Elin that their relationship was strictly platonic.

Doubt trickling in her mind, Elin impersonated her husband by sending a few text messages to Rachel using her husband’s phone. Her doubts immediately confirmed, she resumed confrontation. Tiger, in a wild panick, sent another text to Uchitel to warn her that his wife had found out. Of course Elin also discovered this text message, and in a moment that I like to call the “tipping point”, she proceeded to chase the man out of the house with a golf club.

Oh text messaging, how dangerous thou can be.

According to a New York Times article published at the end of last year, text messages are dubbed the new lipstick on the collar. Divorce lawyers noticed a huge increase last year in cases where a cheated spouse used text messages as proof their partner had strayed.

The American Bar Association even began offering seminars for divorce lawyers on how to use electronic evidence such as text messages and social networks in proving a case.

If you think that when you delete a text message it disappears forever, think again. It can sometimes remain on the sender or receiver’s phone, and telecommunication companies store deleted messages anywhere from days to as long as several weeks. Even if the content of text messages cannot be retrieved, mobile carriers can be subpoenaed to provide records of text messages: when they were sent and received, from what and to what numbers.

In Tiger’s case it was bad luck that many of his mistresses saved his text messages, which they then decided to release in public causing further kerfuffle and embarrassment for the champion golfer.

In the spirit of carpe diem, like with many celebrity defamations, companies capitalized on Tiger Woods’ misfortune. One to note in particular was TigerText, a mobile application which emulates text messaging. It doesn’t actually use SMS, but it looks and feels like the real thing, with one special caveat: the messages are stored on a separate server instead of the mobile carriers’ ones. This way, the sender can choose to delete the message at any time and they can even set the messages on “Delete on Read”, where messages are deleted as as soon as the recipient reads them.


However,  there is one major drawback to this “too good to be true” app: both users have to download the TigerText application in order to communicate. Oh well, at least it generated a few laughs at the expense of revenue.

It’s hard to come by actual statistics as to as how often text messaging is used as evidence or cited in divorce cases. In 2008, a UK release from law firm Wooley & Co. said that 11% of cases cited technology such as the internet and text messaging as a contributing factor, and that number was growing. A more recent survey conducted by on over 5,000 attorneys revealed that Facebook was mentioned in 20% of all divorce cases. This provides a vague idea to the frequency of “text messaging divorces”, and one can only imagine the larger occurrence of “text messaging break-ups”.

Not only are text messages being used during divorce proceedings, it can actually be used to file for divorce in some countries. Under Islamic law, men are allowed to divorce their wives by saying (or writing) the word “talaq” (“I divorce you”) three times. In 2003, Malaysia permitted the use of text messaging as a form of writing and other countries have since followed suit. What’s next – Facebook wall divorces?


It’s not just Tiger Woods though, many celebrity divorces and break-ups have involved text messaging. For example there was the Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook divorce fiasco and the case of the Detroit Mayor who was caught sending 14,000 flirty text messages to his former chief of staff. Even Britney Spears dumped Kevin Ferderline via SMS back in 2006.

It might seem like text messaging or Facebook is encouraging this behavior, but you can’t just blame it on the technology. One could easily argue that cheaters will always be cheaters, technology or no technology, as humans have found ways to embark on affairs since the beginning of time. However, due to the increased ease of personal communication, there is no doubt that it has become a facilitating factor.

There’s also the fact that it’s a very (seemingly) discreet and innocent way to communicate which undermines the guilty conscience, something that might have detered such behavior in the past. After all, you’re not actually “seeing” the person, you’re not actually “touching” the person, and those words never actually came out of your mouth – so it doesn’t count, right?

Long story short, new technology is allowing people to stay in touch but it’s also helping them to stray. One could debate ad nauseum whether the social/relationship benefits of the technology outweigh the negatives. There are many cases where cell phones have saved a person’s life, and there are cases where perhaps it actually helped two soulmates reunite. Maybe someone was too shy to talk to their object of affection, so they decided in lieu to text message and discovered their feelings were mutual.

Regardless of which side you stand on, the point is it doesn’t matter. Technology is advancing, and social norms and behaviors will evolve with it. We’re currently in a transition period where half are accustomed and think “yeah, that’s normal” while the other half stand back and think “that is so weird”.

Eventually, it will be normal for all.


Obama: U.S.’s first Black(Berry) President

When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, he was aware that he would have to give up certain things in life. Private vacations with the family, a movie date with his wife without fifty armed men, wearing a speedo with two beers in-hand on a public beach, and, the ultimate sacrifice: his BlackBerry.

Apparently Obama was quite the BlackBerry addict. During his campaign, he would opt to receive reports and keep up-to-date on news and blog postings through the plastic device. However, when he came into office in January 2009, he was told he had to kick the habit.


The serious

The issue of course comes down to security. No standing president has ever had (or probably knew how to use) a computer, an email account, a smartphone or even a mobile phone for that matter. While Research in Motion (RIM) has built its reputation on security features such as message encryption, password protection, a “remote kill” feature, and has even pro-actively worked with government agencies on these concerns, the U.S. government still had stricter security requirements.

One solution that was considered was switching over to a handheld device that had been blessed by the National Security Agency (NSA) such as General Dynamic’s Sectera Edge. The device (while looking like a drunken mistake lovechild between Windows and Palm Treo that should have been aborted) has installed versions of Microsoft programs, Internet Explorer, and other software that have been deemed good enough for data classified as Secret. It goes for $3,350 in case you’re interested.


The Sectera Edge

Despite its best efforts, the BlackBerry is not a perfectly secure device, as it and can become infected with viruses, spyware and malware which can intercept the data. The National Vulnerability Database lists 14 vulnerabilities for BlackBerrys. It’s not just the risk of content exposure and eavesdropping though; one could potentially locate the president’s location through the device’s built-in GPS or through cell triangulation.

Thankfully, a compromise was made and Obama was allowed to keep his BlackBerry – no need for the Sectera Edge. The deal was that only a limited number of senior staff and personal contacts would have access to his email address and data would be subject to the Presidential Records Act.


Sure, he doesn’t “need” a BlackBerry because of the on-hand staff size he has who can relay information, but as he said in an interview, his concerns were much more human:

“I mean, I can get somebody to print out clips for me, and I can read newspapers. What it has to do with is having mechanisms where you are interacting with people who are outside of the White House in a meaningful way [...] – ways that aren’t scripted, ways that aren’t controlled, [...] ways of staying grounded.”

It’s interesting to see that, not only during his campaign but also these days, there is still a fair amount of media coverage surrounding his BlackBerry amongst other equally pressing issues such as health care, the oil spill crisis and world wars.

Obama, while sitting recently on daytime talk-show The View, said that since he has received the super-encrypted version of the BlackBerry only 10 people have his email address. I’m guessing it isn’t

He also admitted that nobody wants to send him the “real juicy stuff” because they think that it’s probably going to be subject to presidential records. “It’s all very official,” he said, “Mr. President, you have a meeting coming up and we’d like to brief you.”

Boring, but it’s still fun to imagine Michelle sending him a flirty text in the middle of an important meeting.

The jokes

San-Francisco-based comedy troupe, Kasper Hauser, published a book titled Obama’s BlackBerry composed of humorous fake messages imagined to have been sent and received through the device. Everything from texts, emails, Facebook messages, eBay updates and results from customized news search (the president gets alerts when the words “Obama” and “sexy master statesman” appear in the same story); and includes hypothetical exchanges between Biden, Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin.


BidenMyTime: Hey U, whatcha doin?

BARACKO: M rly busy

BidenMyTime: Right :( Can I lv at 4:45?

The Onion also poked fun at the situation with its “Inside Obama’s Emails” slideshow parody, as did The New Yorker with this cartoon:


2. Press to delete announcements of new Iraq self-government start date

6. Alarm flashes in Malia and Sasha are jumping on Lincoln’s bed

14. Press to divert incoming Bill calls to Hillary’s number

18. Push once to add another ten billion dollars to bailout plan

…and here are some more just for kicks:




Obama talks so much about the BlackBerry, one wonders if there isn’t some sort of secret endorsement deal. If there isn’t, maybe there should be. Marketing experts say that he could charge more than $25 million, and maybe as much as $50 million, if he were not a public servant, for the amount of positive buzz he generates.

It’s by far the best free publicity that RIM could ever hope for, and what makes it even more valuable is the authenticity of the world’s most famous man’s devotion to the device.

However, in my personal opinion, with all the brouhaha he’s made about CHANGE, he should really just switch to the iPhone…

Victoria and Eva: LG Fashion Touch

LG teamed up with best friends Victoria Beckham and Eva Longoria Parker to promote two devices, the LG Rumor Touch and the LG Lotus Elite. The campaign, called LG Fashion Touch was envisioned to “promote personal style and the idea that mobile phones have become the latest in fashion communication”. The partnership consisted of print and online campaigns, a series of MTV vignettes and an exclusive celebrity-studded LG party hosted by the two stylish icons to integrate fashion and technology.

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