Culture Hack

Culture Hack

Turning Celebrity Into Equity: Leveraging Influence is No Longer Just About Selling a Product

If you thought about celebrities being involved in businesses outside of the field that launched them to stardom ten years ago, chances are you’d recall those cheesy endorsements and commercials where they’re interacting with brand mascots and in some cases, they would become the brand mascot. There was no real bar set for how involved the influential could be in ventures outside of their field because the public didn’t expect that effort. In the past few years, however, that bar has been established. Some of the most well-known people who started out in other fields are expanding their legacy in different areas, proving that there are no bounds to the greatest one can achieve in their lifetimes.

Shaquille O’Neal 

Shaquille O’Neal has a gallery of advertisements that display how much of a beloved figure he is in the world. But recently. Shaq has made waves in the past year with his involvement in SPACs and, more recently, the launch of an advertising agency with a focus on reversing the unfair diversity ratio. According to Shaq, “Most agencies struggle to meet a 25% diversity target. We want to flip that diversity ratio to turn the minority into the majority.” With co-founder Omid Farhang, Majorite will answer the call to change an industry that has seen a significant lack of inclusion after a year that opened many eyes to the all-affecting systemic racism. While O’Neal won’t handle the daily operations of the agency, he will still be a significant leader of the ship, joining meetings, hosting networking events, and using his star status for celebrity reach outs. His main goal in this new venture is to create new opportunities for communities that have been neglected in the ad world.


Shawn “jay-Z” Carter is no new face to involvement in businesses outside of music. D’Usse cognac, streaming service Tidal, and Roc Nation entertainment firm are all under the mogul’s belt. It’s the Brooklyn legend’s latest company, however, that is setting the tone for a new age of celebrity-owned brands. Towards the end of 2020, the rap legend and entrepreneur announced a new cannabis company that partnered with cannabis sellers TPCO. Monogram is a line of premium marijuana products with prices ranging between $40 and $70. The brand is selling the plant in a variety of forms — pre-rolled cigars, joints, cannabis flower — with descriptive labeling to inform users on how light or strong the effects are. Much like the covers of Jay-Z albums and other products he has sold, the packaging is sleek and smooth, elevating the presentation of a vice that has never been regarded as sleek or smooth. The move to the cannabis industry comes as many states make the move to legalize marijuana, proving that the New York-native rapper is once again ahead of the game. 

Swizz Beatz & Timbaland

It’s no question that these mastermind producers have put out some of the most iconic songs in the 21st century. The library of tracks they made happen would surely be enough to establish them as legends in the music industry. But in March 2020, when the world seemed to be more lost and filled with uncertainty than ever before, the two record powerhouses teamed up to bring the people what they needed most: good music. VERZUZ is a virtual DJ battle that streams on Instagram Live and Apple Music, where some of the industry’s favorites come together and “square off” (or just have a really great time collaborating together and giving their fans the content they deserve). From Erykah Badu and Jill Scott to Ludacris and Nelly, VERZUZ has made music history by bringing dream teams together. And while Swizz Beatz and Timbaland could have easily walked away after the series took off, they stayed involved throughout its whole journey. Earlier this month, the two sold VERZUZ to Triller Network and are now larger shareholders in the network, a move that will elevate the web series’ popularity while maintaining its genuine appeal. 


Turning celebrity into equity is not just about slapping a famous face on packaging; consumers are intrigued by moves to other industries from people who have claimed fame in the areas they know best. Credibility is lended to a product when a well-known name can confirm that they have done the research and were part of the development of something exceptional that is out of their comfort zones.