In 2010, the Kardasian sisters--Kim, Khloe and Kourtney crashed and burned by putting their name on a prepaid MasterCard-branded card that carried "outrageous" fees. The card was a black-eye to the Kardasian brand and was quickly canceled.
Now comes word that 19-year old pop star Justin Bieber is working with a company called BillMyParents. His job: encouraging kids to spend more of their parents' cash with a new prepaid debit card. If you guess that this sponsorship will end badly for Bieber, you’re probably right.
According to The New York Times, the average age of a SpendSmart user is 16, and the card is most often used to purchase fast food, gas, gadgets and clothes. The card has a monthly fee of $3.95, which translates into around $50 annually, additional charges to load money onto the card ($2.95 from a debit or credit card or $0.75 from a checking or savings account), a lost card replacement fee of $7.95, ATM fees of 50 cents per balance enquiry, $1.50 every time cash is withdrawn, and a $3 charge if the card inactive for 90 days.
In other words—“outrageous fees.”
Bieber’s people are putting a “responsible spending” spin on the promotion.
“You know when I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money, so me and my family had to watch the money that we spent,” Mr. Bieber says in a video directed at his young fans. “I learned if you have $100 or $100 million — if you spend more than you have, you’re going to go broke.”
Mr. Bieber urges viewers to “have a talk with your family about money” in the video. “Managing your money is important,” he says, “and there’s a great company that can help you do that called SpendSmart.”
You’d think Bieber’s representatives would be more cautious around taking these kinds of risks with his brand. Teens will follow anything he does, so he needs to hold the responsibility for what he promotes. If nothing else, they should be able to see the disastrous results of the Kardashian fiasco and avoid repeating history. Let’s hope “Bieber Fever” doesn’t turn out to be “Bieber Crash and Burn.”