It's been only a couple weeks since Kim Kardashian and Kanye West announced their big baby news, but the expectant couple have already been flooded with offers to sell photos of their forthcoming child to tabloids. And whether they opt to capitalize on their bundle of joy may have profound consequences for their image.
“It can have tremendous potential, branding-wise, for Kim if she and Kanye do the right thing," Rob Stone, vice president of licensing at Excel Branding, tells The Huffington Post. "They’ve been offered so much money for pictures of the baby that it all depends on how they handle that. It’s one thing selling the pictures to tabloids, but then, what are you doing with the money?”
Stone has one suggestion for Kimye. “Don’t take one penny of that money," he says. "Give it to charity and then your brand will instantaneously be solidified with your fans and your consumers. They’ll support Kim’s fragrance or a Dash clothing line, because now they’ll respect her. If Kim doesn’t do the right thing with the money that’s being thrown at her, then the whole concept will backfire and her branding will become nonexistent. People will just think it's an insult. How dare she sell these pictures of her child for $3 million and then pocket the money? "
And, of course, motherhood has helped some celebrities be taken more seriously. “You look at Jenny McCarthy. People love her now and will buy her product, because a portion of the proceeds goes to autism charity because her child is autistic," he says. "Jessica Alba has an entire organic program and it’s healthy and the product is good for children. So if Kim does the right thing, her branding will just benefit from it.”
Jessica Simpson has also made smart business decisions, such as launching a maternity collection, since welcoming daughter Maxwell in May. "What she's doing is taking her existing brand and maximizing her motherhood by using that talent and building another niche and now she has the credibility because she is a mother," Stone says.
Stone recommends that Kimye follow the example set by Kanye's "Watch the Throne" collaborator Jay-Z and his wife, Beyonce, in handling the attention surrounding 1-year-old daughter Blue Ivy. “Jay-Z and Beyonce are class-acts and that's why their brands are just getting stronger," he says."They’ve done the right thing and they’ve kept her out of the limelight. Jay-Z wrote a song about Blue. They did the pictures, everyone saw the baby, and now it's time to move on and they’re protecting the baby.” Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are another couple to emulate. "Look at how protective the’ve been of their family," he says. "As a result, both of them are megabrands. It’s all about how you handle the commercialization."
But when it comes to those who've done a less-than-admirable job of shielding their children from the press, Britney Spears comes to mind. "She pulled them into it and used them," Stone says. "That’s the worst thing that you could possibly do. You don’t pull your children into the press to use them to your advantage.”
“This isn’t a commodity," he says. "It’s a child, it’s a living being, and if they look at it as a cash-in, their careers are basically over.”