It was recently announced that actress Mila Kunis, known primarily for her roles in the long-running sitcom “That ’70s Show” and the Oscar-winning flick “Black Swan,” would be the face of luxury British-based jewelry company Gemfields, the world’s largest producer of emeralds. While Kunis may not be as known for her baubles—on or off the red carpet—like a star like Angelina Jolie, she says she felt a personal connection to the brand, stating, “I’ve done that once before and it’s one of the hardest things to do… to pitch a product you don’t stand by. The short of it is, I went and visited Gemfields in Africa and they are one of the most loveliest companies I had had the pleasure of actually touring, let alone being a part of.”
This got us thinking about Kunis’ previous endorsements, which are relatively limited, but run the gamut from mass retailer Gap to luxury super-brand Dior. With no jewelry experience under her belt, we had to wonder what Gemfields saw in the young actress. “The marketing and creative executives at Gemfields believe that Mila Kunis resonates with their customers and will enable them to sell more product based on her association,” Kristi McCormick, casting director and founder of leading consulting agency Matchbook, told us. “All the jewelry companies I’ve met with have a ‘hit list’ of celebrity names they would like to dress or work with based on their customer profile.”
Additionally, it appears that Gemfields has been in the market for an A-list actress for some time now. In a November 2012 “Bloomberg Businessweek” piece—likely around the time they began courting Kunis for the gig—the brand’s CEO Ian Harebottle stated he was seeking “an A-lister” to give green gems the same notoriety that Marilyn Monroe did with diamonds when she sang the infamous “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The piece also states that the influx in requests for colored diamonds is the result of celebrities wearing them (like Kate Middleton’s famous diamond and sapphire engagement ring that previously belonged to Princess Diana). Scoring a relatable star like Kunis was probably a coup for Gemfields, as they think a broad audience admires her taste.
The news that Gemfields had signed Kunis came a day after Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence made her debut as the new face of Miss Dior, Dior’s handbag line that Kunis had previously fronted. Many speculated that Kunis had been pushed out—perhaps because Lawrence has a far higher red carpet profile at this point, and these days Kunis is increasingly known for her relationship with Ashton Kutcher and a much-publicized affinity for sweatpants. The actress clearly loved her Dior bags, but tended to carry them to the gym and not to hot Hollywood restaurants. Did Kunis’ image cause Dior to push her out?
According to McCormick, this is most likely not the case. “Many luxury brands use talent for six-months to one-year (Miu Miu for example),” she said. “It is a risk for a brand to use a celebrity for a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract. However, a celebrity negotiation with lawyers, managers, and agents can take months. In the case of Lawrence, Dior could have approached her a year prior, but the timing wasn’t right due to her hectic film schedule. They had a short run with Mila, but they may have been set on Jennifer all along.”
Take a look at Kunis’ first ad for Gemfields above and let us know your thoughts. While she obviously looks stunning, we almost wish she was attached to something that felt more authentic for her. Regardless, McCormick says that it’s the celebrity name—and not their personal preferences—that land them lucrative gigs. “If there is an award-winning film or hit TV show that the actor is part of, the brands will follow—whether they are luxury or not,” she said.