In recent years, it has seemed as if Jay Z and Beyoncé could do no wrong.
As music’s first couple, she was riding high off the success of a surprise visual album that defied timeworn marketing norms. He was embarking on a savvy spurt of new business ventures, including the sports management agency Roc Nation Sports and the acquisition of uber-luxe champagne brand Armand de Brignac.
But now, the duo’s entrepreneurial streak seems to have struck a sour chord. Yesterday, in the latest instance of branding backlash, Good Morning America teased that Beyoncé had an “amazing” announcement to share. When that news turned out not to be an album but a pre-recorded monologue about a plant-based diet that the starlet occasionally favors -- a barely-veiled shill for her forthcoming meal-delivery company -- the Beyhive started swarming in furor.
One fan was even quick to post photographic evidence of the starlet chomping on a burger.
Beyond a mere letdown, however, the move seems to call into question the misguided nature of the venture itself. The fact that Beyoncé is not a vegan and has reportedly had limited involvement in the creation of 22 Days Nutrition -- a company being spearheaded by her trainer and life coach, Marco Borges -- has struck a nerve with skeptical fans.
It’s the same skepticism that has plagued other would-be lifestyle gurus, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Blake Lively, and it’s the same skepticism that has turned Tidal, Jay Z’s three-month-old streaming service, into an all-out disaster. If the concept of multimillionaires sermonizing about how to eat healthfully or how to purchase music has inspired seething backlash on the part of consumers, it hasn’t stopped tone-deaf stars from hurling their hats into the entrepreneurial ring.
After purchasing Tidal for $56 million last March, Jay Z unveiled the service at a bizarre launch event at a New York City post office, during which top-selling artists quoted Nietzsche and bemoaned the financial injustices of the music business. Late last month, Tidal drifted to No. 9 on the iTunes list of top-grossing music apps, right after Slacker Radio.
Granted, at the end of the day, Jay Z is at the helm of an expansive empire worth $550 million -- including Roc-A-Fella records, the Rocawear clothing line and a chain of 40/40 nightclubs. And Beyoncé, worth an estimated $250 million, is poised to launch an athleisure line with Topshop later this fall.
Nevertheless, the couple’s recent missteps would seem to indicate that a healthy helping of humility is crucial in the entrepreneurial realm -- especially when you’re the queen bee.