Business Managers Land Starring Roles in Celebrity-Branded Business Ventures – Los Angeles Business Journal

December 20, 2021 by No Comments

Abacus Financial’s Anakwenze said managers sometimes need to guide clients away from risky ventures.

Spurred by peers occasionally hitting jackpots, Hollywood talent has been diversifying into entrepreneurial side ventures in which, in a new twist, their business managers and lawyers take frontline roles. Those side hustles outside core entertainment careers can be in beverages, food, cosmetics, fashion, personal fitness, cannabis products and an array of online media propositions they own or co-own.

“We’re living in a very unique period in time where innovation is plentiful and capital is readily accessible,” Belva Anakwenze, principal at Abacus Financial Business Management in Palms, said.

A prime example of the celebrity gold rush is the Casamigos tequila brand George Clooney co-created in 2013 and sold for a cool $1 billion in 2017 to spirits giant Diageo. Clooney’s co-creator was Rande Gerber, an entertainment entrepreneur married to supermodel Cindy Crawford. That lofty price tag jolted Hollywood.
“Even 10 to 15 years ago, these examples of celebrities taking equity in founding of companies were rare,” said Century City-based attorney Shaun Clark.

Clark, a partner at law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, sees social media as the game changer.

“I attribute a lot of the shift to technology that gives sophisticated influencers and talent a voice and direct connectivity with their fans and demographic,” he said. “You’re not just leveraging their name, voice and recognition, you are talking to an entire following that sees and likes what the celebrities are saying.”

In the hard liquor industry, where gaining market share is normally a glacial process, celebrity associations boost sales for tequila, a category that seems overrun with Hollywood and other talent. Besides Clooney’s Casamigos, actress/producer Eva Longoria backs Casa Del Sol, basketballer Michael Jordan co-founded Cincoro, LeBron James drives 1707 Lobos, influencer Kendall Jenner pushes 818 Tequila, and pop music’s Nick Jonas launched Villa One. Jenner’s 818 brand generated mixed reviews from aficionados but sold out at launch.

The latest sensation is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Teremana, which ranked a lofty No. 6 among mid-priced tequila brands in 2020, the highest newcomer brand in that middle-priced category, according to beverage market researcher Shanken Daily News. Armed with Johnson’s celebrity firepower, the brand’s distributor Mast-Jägermeister became an instant force in tequila.
“It’s very rare for a premium brand to do that kind of volume in its very first year on the market,” according to researcher Shanken.

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