When showbiz stars shine in business

(First published in the Philippine Online Chronicles, October 24, 2011)

by Ian Jester de Vera, SERDEF Media Bureau

There comes a time when show biz celebrities, no matter how in-demand they are as performers — plan for a second career. Call it a fallback, if you want to be blunt. Contingency, if you prefer to be euphemistic. If they have a modicum of foresight, they’d know  their star is bound to fade sooner or later – show biz being youth-oriented and the fans tending to be fickle – unless their name is Eddie Garcia or Gloria Romero.

A toss-up between politics and business

You and I know that show-biz fame can be a passport to an elective position in government. One is hard-pressed to count how many film and TV luminaries have been able to parlay their celebrity and name recall into votes that sent them to the Senate or Congress or even to Malacanang.

Another route to a second career, less sweat-free and more risky, is entrepreneurship.

Going into business seems to be a logical move for folks who have earned big bucks (assuming they handle their income prudently) and who have famous names and charismatic personas that can be turned into assets in developing, marketing, promoting and advertising a business. A celebrity-owned business usually has an automatic public image and a built-in fan base.

However, celebrity is no guarantee for business success.

Some celebrity businesses fail for a number of reasons — from poor management skills and lack of time devoted to the business to lack of experience and bad business ideas doomed from the very beginning. Whatever the reason for failure, the owners have learned the hard way they’re not exempt from the rules of sound business management in order to become successful entrepreneurs.

American idols who made it in busines

Paul Newman, a hugely popular post-war Hollywood actor, was among the first known American celebrities who successfully lent his famous name to and invested his resources into a business. With partner  writer A. E. Hotchner, the actor established Newman’s Own, a food company producing pasta sauce, frozen pizza, iced tea, lemonade, limeade, fruit cocktail juices, popcorn, pretzels, salsa, cookies, coffee, grape juice, dog food, cat food, condoms, and other products. Newman’s Own Lemonade was introduced in 2004 and Newman’s Own premium wines in 2008. Each label features a picture of Newman, dressed in a different costume to represent the product. Newman’s Own became a benchmark for social entrepreneurship, with the actor donating most of its proceeds to various charities and educational institutions. When Newman passed away in 2008, there were fears the company would die with him, but as of 2010, it is reported to be going strong.

In more contemporary times, an American celebrity who made it big in business is Rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs . Diddy has an impressive $400+ million per year company. Diddy is also a multimillion-dollar hip-hop producer of musical hits under his Bad Boy Records.

American pro wrestler Hulk Hogan’s fast-food restaurant Pastamania may have flopped, but he has since redeemed himself by launching his own energy drink, Hogan Energy. He has also attached his name to a line of microwavable hamburgers and chicken sandwiches called “Hulkster Burgers.”

Jennifer Lopez may well be an example of an entrepreneur who failed and tried and failed and tried again. In addition to her unsuccessful restaurant business, she also suffered setbacks in the fashion industry. But the sultry performer has persevered: she recently announced a new ready-to-wear line targeting an older audience .

Some of the successful celebrity-entrepreneurs stuck to what they do best or at least didn’t stray too much from their showbiz niche. Multi-awarded director Steven Spielberg did just that, but not before he suffered losses in a restaurant business that enjoyed short-lived success.

Although he was lackluster as a restaurateur, Spielberg found success in what he does best: film production. His DreamWorks Pictures has produced or distributed more than ten films with box-office grosses totaling more than $100 million each.

Sticking to one’s guns is perhaps a lesson shared by Spielberg with television personality Oprah Winfrey and fellow film director and producer George Lucas. Oprah and her Harpo Productions have become a formidable force in film, television and radio since the multimedia company’s inception in 1986. Meanwhile, George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic has won numerous Academy Awards and is one of the most sought-after visual effects companies since 1975.


Pinoy stars shine in entrepreneurship too

In the Philippines, the iconic Fernando Poe Jr. stuck to his guns both literally and figuratively and produced …

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