Pumped-Up Celebrity Expectations

So Jose Canseco – Chemically Augmented Bash Brother, Head Butter of Fly Balls, Tamer of Madonna – has just let on that he’s launching an energy drink called “Juiced – The Drink.” Chances are that as I write this, Sports Illustrated is preparing a one-liner about how this product is one of its signs that Armageddon is upon us, but I see it a different way. I see it as a sign of just how much the consumer goods market has changed. It used to be that sticking a guy’s face or name on a drink or candy bar or cereal box made for instant success, but those times have gone the way of Barry Bonds’ dignity.

While our criticisms of formulaic, me-too products are well-known, we see the near sure-failure of Canseco’s product (if it even makes it to market, given the fact that Rockstar Energy already has its own Juiced on the shelves) as something of a boon. It’s refreshing to know the business has advanced to the point where there are research and advance planning requirements, and we think Jose will soon find himself hoisted on his own, artificially-enlarged petard. Not that we don’t pine for the fun, wild-and-woolly days when a new energy drink, or even a Reggie Bar, could hit the shelves at any moment and become a breakout hit, but anyone who is really thirsting for a can of Canseco should seek therapy, regardless.

And what’s the deal with all these disgraced jocks getting into the drinks business, anyway? We recently read that Steve Howe, the once-talented-but recently-deceased relief pitcher who snorted his way from Los Angeles to New York, had been working on an all-natural energy drink at the time of his fatal truck rollover. Considering the fact that the coroner’s report noted traces of methamphetamine in his bloodstream at the time of death, we can only assume Howe wasn’t just using energy drinks for get up and go.

Meanwhile, a trip to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show last October showed us the Bill Romanowski, a former pro linebacker who last year sobbed his way through a 60 Minutes interview about his past steroid abuse and all around bad attitude, had taken on the role of spokesman for second-tier sports beverage Cytomax. Romanowski reportedly calls Cytomax his sports drink of choice – it’s especially good for washing down the entire contents of your doctor’s sample closet.

Of course, it’s not just jocks who are among the questionable spokespeople. We’ve also just gotten word that LaToya Jackson is endorsing Aussie malternative Star Ice. We think that as a singer, LaToya makes a great Penthouse model, and as a spokeswoman, she makes a great Penthouse model, as well.

The only thing all of these weird beverage/celeb connections have in common? A snowball’s chance in hell of making an impact on store shelves.