Snooki's Reinvention: How the New Mom Could Profit From the Celebrity Baby Business
Almost three years ago, the world got its first glimpse of Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi when MTV premiered the first-ever episode of Jersey Shore. Now six seasons later, Snooks is much more than just a fist-pumping, pickle-loving, pint-sized “guidette” drinking her way through Seaside Heights, NJ.
Snooki catapulted her small-screen fame into a successful brand: the reality star published three books (including New York Times bestseller, A Shore Thing), landed a spinoff series with BFF Jenni “JWoww" Farley, appeared in 2012’s The Three Stooges, threw punches on WWE Raw, and has been parodied throughout pop culture, on shows such as South Park and Saturday Night Live.
But as Jersey Shore prepares to kick off its farewell season on Oct. 4, Snooki is primed to step into a new spotlight — celebrity motherhood. Snooki and fiancé Jionni LaValle welcomed their first child, son Lorenzo LaValle, on Sunday.
"Having a baby is a natural way to expand her brand and her capital gains," branding expert Karen Post explains to Celebuzz. "People will be curious how she develops into a mom."
For starters, Snooki could cash in if she decides to sell the first snaps of her son. "All signs indicate Snooki plans to follow the tradition of selling the first official photos of her baby," says Stacy Jones, CEO of Hollywood Branded Inc. "She still has not tweeted an image, something most new moms who are social media savvy would undoubtedly do right away. And her waiting to announce her pregnancy through US Weekly, with a cover and full story, supports this theory."
If she takes that path, "I think she can make around $500,000 for both domestic and international rights," says pop culture expert Jo Piazza.
But that's just the beginning. The career potential for celebrity moms spans far beyond six-figure paydays. "This baby is her key to reinvention and her life raft for brand survival," explains Piazza. "Despite her wild-child image, I think some [people] will be excited to jump on the Snooki bandwagon, especially as her image evolves."
That evolution will likely be chronicled on her MTV spinoff series, Snooki & JWoww, which premiered in June. "Snooki’s foray into motherhood will be closely captured every step of the way in the second season," says Jones. "But Snooki is known for packing the punches — crazy partying, drunken outbursts, and rhinestone flair — and is going to have to rebrand herself if she wants to not be condemned by all of America. She's no longer a little girl at liberty to play a game. She is going to be facing a mountain of criticism if she continues to be the Snooki of Jersey Shore."
Many mothers — think Britney Spears, Kate Gosselin and Octomom — have been disparaged in the media for their controversial maternal ways. "Snooki's behavior will direct the type of opportunities she earns," explains Post. If she wants to steer clear of critics, "She will have to modify her interests, act responsible and stay out of jail."
Jones agrees, noting that Snooki faces the daunting task of "reinventing herself without losing her audience. The question is, will [she still have] a following if she tones it down to not have the insane drama of her party lifestyle? She has to and hope that [her fans] grow along with her."
Snooki wouldn't be the first celebrity mom to successfully shed a scandal-strewn reputation. "Playmate-turned-mom Kendra Wilkinson managed to pull off an image upgrade...after having her child," recalls Jones. And "Nicole Richie and Kendra Wilkinson...have both become brand powerhouses by going from party girls to mommies," adds Piazza.
If the MTV star polishes up her public persona, "we will see mom-friendly endorsements" coming her way, Piazza predicts, including "baby clothes, strollers, baby food and weight-loss supplements. I think we will see her land several multimillion deals."
But Snooki is not likely to land deals with "big household name brands," says Jones. "Unless there are massive changes made to Snooki’s image, she’s so tarnished by her drunken rages and foul mouth, that your Gerber, Proctor & Gamble, Babies "R" Us and Huggies type of brands will likely stay away. Baby brands mean family and...children and wholesome usually go hand in hand. [That's] something Snooki’s image definitely does not relate to."
Even if the new mom keeps up her beer-chugging, club-hopping ways, she could see some offers rolling in from less established companies. "Smaller up-and-coming brands may be more willing to take the risk with being associated with Snooki as a mom," reasons Jones. "But these deals will be much lower in value and overall exposure."
Still, there are other brand-building opportunities that could come with Snooki's motherhood — such her very own clothing line. "She is infamous for her designer styles," Jones says of the TV star, who is already the designer a line of children's shoes. "Perhaps becoming the CEO of a new line of blinged baby clothing, accessories and sunglasses would be the right direction for her to go with her career."
And the New York Times best-selling author could see book deals roll in. "Publishers do books with authors that can sell books, and she has a fan base," says Post. In fact, "she's already shopping one," adds Piazza.
At the end of the day, only time will tell if pint-sized party girl Snooki can transform into a "mompreneur" profit machine. But one thing is for sure: the opportunity is there for the taking.
"This is a multimillion dollar prospect for Snooki," Piazza says. "And the sky is really the limit."