Celebrity Businesswomen: Rewriting the Rules
By Samantha Chang
Britney SpearsOh snap! Britney’s a hot mess, y’all. With recent hospital confinements and an ugly custody battle making daily headlines, the troubled superstar is having some tough times. Oddly, Brit’s increasingly erratic behavior hasn’t made a dent in her hugely successful brand; if anything, her notoriety has only escalated her worldwide celebrity status. Case in point: Britney Spears was the No. 1 search on Yahoo for six of the past seven years.
In addition to having sold over 77 million records globally, Britney has four lucrative perfume lines that are flying off department store shelves, and she pulls in fistfuls of cash (up to $400,000 a pop!) just to show up at trendy nightclubs in L.A., New York and Las Vegas.Interestingly, Britney’s impact on the flailing U.S. economy has been off the charts.
She generates $110 million to $120 million annually for the American economy, according to Portfolio magazine. Here’s the kicker: Britney isn’t even actively working on any projects right now, yet she still rakes in $9 million a year from her various business interests and has a personal fortune of $125 million.
And don’t forget that her every move subsidizes the lives of the paparazzi, editors and reporters who make their livings working for celebrity tabloids and tv shows (talk about giving new meaning to the term “parasite”). Between January 2006 and July 2007, Britney was on the covers of Us Weekly, OK!, People, In Touch, Life & Style and Star a combined total of 175 times.So
even when she’s being hauled off to a hospital in a stretcher, 26-year-old Britney is making serious bank. So while some can sneer at her assorted personal problems, Britney is an undeniable money-making machine—and not just for herself but for other individuals and whole industries. Not bad for a little girl from the backwoods of Kentwood, La., eh?
Oprah WinfreyEarth to everyone: Oprah really is God. This self-made billionaire owns her own wildly popular talk show, has donated $50 million to open an academy for girls in South Africa, has a successful self-named magazine and radio shows, and now, Oprah is set to launch her own TV network called (what else?) Oprah Winfrey Network. And don’t forget her brand-new venture, a spectacular 5,500-square-foot shop called the Oprah Store in Chicago, where she peddles goods emblazoned with her trademark logo. Is there anything she can’t do??
Interestingly, Oprah, 54, has defied practically every rule for business success while exponentially expanding her global empire every year. Think about it: Oprah is a super-rich, single, childless black woman whose main audience comprises middle-class, married white women with kids.Despite being a tireless business mogul, stay-at-home moms everywhere hang on Oprah’s every word, faithfully read every book she recommends and buys every product she touts.