Check out this Adweek article about Lucy and Desi’s new campaign. Did you know that deceased celebrities still rake in over $2 billion dollars annually? While Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe are obvious contributors, I can’t help but find Lucy and Desi’s case more interesting.
Lucy and Desi rarely participated in advertising endorsements while they were alive. Though anyone and everyone wanted Lucy, the only brand the couple endorsed while they were living was Phillip Morris, an exception made only because the brand sponsored I Love Lucy‘s production. Today, they’re appearing in a print ad for Wells Fargo, a less obvious choice for comedy synergy. The ad’s strategy is clearly to capitalize on the nostalgia factor for Baby Boomers saving for retirement; however, the correlation between everyone’s favorite TV couple and banking is a stretch to say the least.
Of course, behind the scenes, Desi’s behavior and infidelity would have severely impacted the couple’s brand equity had it become more known at the time. One has to wonder if the couple were alive today if they could have achieved the same success given the rampant documentation of celebrity behavior from the paparazzi and spread of gossip through web and social channels. Their PR profile certainly would have become much more complicated.