Beckham is leading the celeb campaign for In.
Courtesy of Diageo
By John Kell
January 8, 2015

Even as singer Justin Timberlake completed his 20/20 Experience World Tour in the final weeks of 2014, he still found time to regularly tweet about his tequila brand to his nearly 40 million Twitter followers.

That dedication and direct access to consumers explains why alcohol brands are choosing to hook up with celebrities. Already a popular practice in the beverage industry, the pace of endorsements and investments by famous names has accelerated in recent years as more celebs look to make money from the increasing popularity of liquor and wine.

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These deals generate great benefits for both celebrities and liquor brands. The brands can boost sales by associating with a well-known actor, or rapper, benefiting from free press when those celebrities go on talk shows, or promote their brands to millions of fans on Twitter and other social media platforms. Celebrities enjoy the benefits of associating with a category that denotes luxury.

“The endorsement by a celebrity really gives consumers the feeling that they can partake in the kind of lifestyle they assume these celebrities are living,” said Michael Stone, CEO of licensing agency Beanstalk.

While many celebrity brands can charge slightly more than the industry average for their liquors or wines, Stone points out that many aren’t priced too out of reach. That’s because the audience for celebrity-backed brands isn’t for the 1%, it is for the larger fan base that wants to buy into the celebrity lifestyle. And, of course, not all celebrity-backed brands are a hit (Donald Trump’s vodka was a notable flop.)

Celebrity tie-ins with alcohol brands have existed for decades, at times endorsed by public figures even without the brand’s consent. While touring in the 1950s, Frank Sinatra sang the praises of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, and sales leapt as a result of his unpaid endorsements. But in more recent years, celebrities have taken a more active role. Most deals involve an equity stake of some sort, so the celebrity can benefit from the beverage’s sales for as long as it stays on shelves.

Here are nine booze partnerships, including some of the industry’s greatest hits and a few newer offerings that are just taking off.


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