Coach has confirmed Selena Gomez as its new brand ambassador and said that yes, the link-up will include “a special design project with Coach executive creative director Stuart Vevers.”
So far, so unsurprising. The news about the partnership was widely leaked last week so I’m certainly not telling you anything you don’t already know. But what I do find interesting about this deal isn’t that a high-end handbag company has named a gorgeous 20-something celeb as its latest ‘face’. After all, that’s been happening since a handbag maker in the dark mists of time decided it might sell a few more bags if someone famous was seen to be carrying its brand.
What’s key about this is her social media reach. Gomez is big on Instagram. No, make that Gomez is the Empress of Instagram. She has 104m followers on the platform and is the most followed celebrity there.
And that’s what counts these days. Not the Vogue covers, nor the hit movies/songs/TV shows (although they all help).
It’s the same reasoning that saw Bella Hadid landed a design deal with Chrome Hearts last week. Ok, she’s only got 8.6m Instagram followers but anything over a few million isn’t to be sniffed at.
The model, known as much for hardly ever smiling in public as anything else, gushed about the deal on social media: “So damn excited! You have no idea what’s coming! My new collection with @chromeheartsofficial designed by me, shot by my angel mother @laurielynnstark I CANT wait for you all to see what we’ve made! Follow @chromeheartsxbella for more #chromeheartsxbella coming soon soon soon…”
It was a weird post from someone who looks so unexcitable in the flesh and it makes me think that Kate Moss’s strategy of saying very little and letting the pictures do the talking is the right one. But then I’m a world-weary Baby Boomer and and we all know that Genz Z and Millennials prize enthusiasm (and exclamation marks too, apparently) above all things. Not that I’m criticising. I like Bella Hadid much more than the current crop of super-social-models out there.
But back to my point. It’s her social media profile rather than ny straightforward success as a model that made this deal happen.
Then, of course, there’s Gigi. Bella’s sis is an even bigger Instagram phenomenon with 27m followers and has leveraged that into a lucrative deal with Tommy Hilfiger to model/design as well as appearing in more ad campaigns than I care to mention here and fronting a giant empowering on-going campaign for Reebok.
Social media has also proved to be crucial not just in giving a model extra clout when it comes to negotiating deals with brands. A powerful social media presence has also allowed people to create brands from nowhere and nobody does this better than the Kardashian-Jenners.
Kendall Jenner and sister Kylie have discovered the ker-ching factor with their Kendall & Kylie line but Kylie is also empire-building via a Puma ambassador deal and her LA Topanga mall pop-up store opening last week really illustrates her potential.
Queues round the block, a buzz generated by the here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of the store, some videos showing Kylie and boyfriend Tyga in bed – it all made fans desperate to get their hands on just a few of her Lip Kits.
We can, of course, expect more of the same next year. But what’s interesting is that given social media’s immediacy and affordability just what that “more of the same” will be.
Whether it’s brands making the most of their budgets with social adspend rather than pricey print and TV, or savvy individuals turning themselves into multimillion dollar brands through social media, it’s the biggest story out there but one that could still surprise us all.
Chances are the biggest campaigns will shock us with ideas nobody has yet thought of. And chances are that some of next year’s stars are people we’ve not even heard of yet. But someone out there is sitting in her bedroom right now and hatching a plan for global domination…