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Your lean, mean, grilling machine…

As some of you know I spent two amazing days last week at a marketing conference at the Birmingham ICC. Part of the draw for many there was celebrity guest speaker, 6 time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy, he’s the most successful British Olympian of all time.

After hearing him I thought about other businesses using celebrity as a tool for marketing including one of the most successful celebrity-driven product launches in history.

You will have heard of the Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, more commonly known as the ‘George Foreman Grill’. The product, in itself, wasn’t particularly outstanding. I mean, it was a cool little thing, but it wasn’t the only product on the market that cooked food healthily.

Salton Inc, the company that sold the grill, were selling a measly 40 units per-year. George Foreman had just made an unsuccessful comeback to the ring. The perfect match?

The collaboration between Foreman and Salton Inc resulted in a boom and sales of over 100 million units.

Now, this went a little bit wrong for Salton, as they were paying Foreman a whopping 40% on every unit sold. George Foreman was earning upwards of $4.5 million every month, making a total of over $200 million. Things got so out of hand that in 1999, Salton paid $137 million to Foreman to buy him out of the contract and keep his name.

But to concentrate on the fact that Salton got this a little bit wrong would be to miss the point. The interesting bit – and the bit that I want you to pay big attention to – is the power that celebrities can bring to a business.

I hope that’s got you thinking about what celebrities could be good for your business.

Jason Gill

P.S. See Chris Hoy Win Cycling Gold at London 2012 Olympics