LONDON, United Kingdom — Jennifer Lopez is in the spotlight right now, but not just because of her Oscar nominations snub.
On Tuesday, just one day after she was passed over in the Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress category for her lauded role in the hit 2019 film Hustlers, the multi-hyphenate known as J.Lo added American denim brand Guess to the roster of labels she is currently fronting. Just days earlier, her Versace campaign hit and last November, US leather goods house Coach announced she’d be the face of its campaign, too.
These three brands, which each represent very different corners of the market, are tapping a megawatt celebrity who, at 50-years-old, lands squarely into Generation X. What’s behind her current appeal?
“I think she’s pretty timeless,” said Holly Mirza, co-founder of the London-based public relations agency fabric. “She’s also got a really clean-cut image...and she’s aspirational. The younger generation looks up to her as a fashion icon.”
The labels currently working with Lopez represent a broad appeal across sectors: mass (Guess), aspirational (Coach) and luxury (Versace), reflecting Lopez’s appeal across audience segments, from price points to global markets.
They also reflect a wider challenge faced by fashion brands’ marketing departments amid fierce competition for eyeballs and media value as return on ad spend diminishes.
In some ways, the power of celebrities has become so great that the brand has to be an expression of their values.
For the past few years, advertisers have been relying on a well-known set of Instagram-famous models, including Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber and Kendall Jenner, to front their marketing campaigns in a bid to attract increasingly important Millennial and Gen-Z customers.
However, these household names soon became commodities; as professional models, their spending power only goes so far, limited to the same (often overlapping) Instagram followers. Lopez, on the other hand, feels like a novelty who also happens to be something of a sure bet. Her endorsement of Versace following the brand’s Spring/Summer 2020 show, which she closed wearing the iconic jungle dress she wore at the Grammys nearly two decades ago, generated $9.4 million in media mentions and online engagement according to Lyst.
Celebrity-fronted fashion campaigns are nothing new, but the dynamics of these star deals have shifted thanks to a changing digital landscape and influencer economy.
“Now, more than ever, [the celebrity] has to be consistent with the brand values,” said Simon Woolford, founder and company director of creative agency Sum Design. “In some ways, the power of celebrities has become so great that the brand has to be an expression of their values, rather than the celebrity being one communication strand among many others [for the brand].”
Lopez offers a wholesome-yet-cool persona, gravitas along with reach. “It’s great for her brand, Brand J.Lo, in terms of building brand equity,” said Woolford. That level of influence gives her clout for lucrative collaborations.
The "Lopez effect' is already taking shape for Coach. According Lyst, searches for Coach spiked 67 percent at the end of November 2019, the month that it was announced she would be the face of the brand, while searches for Coach bags grew 204 percent during the fourth quarter of 2019.
As for Guess, the brand and J.Lo have had a longstanding relationship, with the singer first becoming the face of its jeans campaign for Spring/Summer 2018 and more recently striking a merchandise deal for her June 2019 “It’s My Party” tour. Data from Lyst shows that the same year she fronted the Guess Spring/Summer 2018 campaign, searches for the brand increased 120 percent compared to 2017, when Hailey Baldwin and Camila Cabello starred in the Spring and Autumn campaigns respectively.
Further adding value to J.Lo’s advertising potential are her 109 million Instagram followers. Lopez’s post of the latest Versace campaign images garnered 2.49 million likes on her personal Instagram account. That compares to just 117,000 for the same image on Donatella Versace’s profile and only 96,000 on Versace’s official account.
Ultimately, the breadth of Lopez’s appeal is what makes her an authentic fit for Versace and Guess alike. “She’s in the fashion world, but she’s also someone that anyone on the street can look up to,” said Fabric PR’s Mirza. “It’s hard to think of someone else who can tick all of those boxes.”