Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Observations on Jennifer Hawkins

I knew this heading would catch your attention. It will no doubt also introduce this blog to many new readers (are there any yet?). Unfortunately though, this article is not accompanied by images

I am writing about the Myer group's impending float on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). The Financial Review commented today that analysts were probably disappointed yesterday to see Myer CEO, Bernie Brookes (no relation), pitching the float to them instead of the former Miss Universe. I bet the AFR is dead right! They should definitely have featured a catwalk, but not performed by Bernie (I will soon write another blog about brands fronted by people called Bernie!).

The point of this is to ask is it appropriate to use young 'Jen', as she is affectionately known in Oz, to front the float of a major company? Could it be a double-edged sword?

Certainly, paid full page adverts in the AFR featuring the flawless Jen brighten up the publication's otherwise dull pictorial. And Jen does a great job of reminding us that Myer is a retailer with a focus on fashion (they also sponsor Fashions on the Field at Victorian Racing's globally famous Spring Racing Carnival). But what other value does she add to the serious business of attracting investors to the initial public offer of Myer shares?

One could ask is Jen's flawless countenance used to distract us from flaws in the company and/or its investment potential? I'm not suggesting this is the case, merely asking the question about perceptions? Or as a community, have we become so smitten with celebrity and the beauty of youth that we'll basically buy anything that lovely Jen endorses.

Bernie said the other day that he would pay even more for Jen's profile and she would be worth every cent. I bet there comes a day when he regrets that comment! Using Jen to publicise a float certainly attracts eyeballs, some of them bulging, but does it enhance the credibility of the message? And talking brands, will this Jen 'brand extension' from beauty and fashion into huckstering investment dollars from smitten institutional analysts, or even retail investors, work?

My guess is that in our celebrity-obsessed age, it will work, particularly with retail investors, who think Jen can do no wrong. Congratulations to Bernie and the team! By the way Jen, will a big chunk of your fees be paid in Myer shares?

Oh buggar it... you all deserve a reward for reading this far, here's a link to Jen's famous catwalk wardrobe malfunction....

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