In a press release issued Wednesday, RadioShack announced its new Chief Creative Officer: Nick Cannon.
Yes, you read that correctly: RadioShack is still alive despite filing for bankruptcy early this year, and it hired an actor-turned-rapper-turned-TV personality to help revive its struggling brand. In addition to starring in movies like Drumline and Love Don't Cost a Thing, Cannon is the current host of America's Got Talent and a creative consultant for TeenNick on Nickelodeon. There's no doubt that Cannon is a talented entrepreneur and self-promoter, but it's hard to keep a straight face at the release's claim that Cannon is "the picture of a RadioShack success story."
With his already busy career, Cannon will likely be a brand ambassador more than anything else, but he is not the first celebrity to take such a position with a lagging tech company. In 2013, BlackBerry hired Alicia Keys as a creative director, a partnership that ended less than a year later. Lenovo (which is in a slightly better position than RadioShack or BlackBerry, market-wise) took on Ashton Kutcher as a "product engineer," a smarter choice given Kutcher's seemingly genuine enthusiasm for innovation and decent track record as an investor.
Unfortunately, the public usually spots such famous hires for what they are—attempts by weaker tech competitors to boost their perceived cool factor, awarding a hollow title to someone who will likely have little involvement. Keys couldn't even bring herself to use BlackBerry products, tweeting from her iPhone right after she was brought onboard. (She claimed she'd been hacked.)
RadioShack's release says that Cannon will play a role in the development of new products exclusive to the brand, as well as helping them expand their "educational initiatives." Says Cannon, "RadioShack and I are going to create a lot of cool things together in the coming months, and I can't wait to tell you all about it." Let's hope Cannon is truly committed, and this isn't another celebrity partnership that fizzles out fast.