An Open Letter To The Kardashian Sisters

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Dear Kim, Khloe, and Klueless:

I’m one of your biggest fans and was wondering if you would autograph a picture of the three of you for me.

No, just kidding, I’m not one of your biggest fans. Truth be told, until recently if I heard the name Kardashian, I would think of that guy who was somehow affiliated with the OJ Simpson case. Is he a relative?

Thanks to a teenage daughter I have, I found out that the three of you have your own TV show. Congrats. That must be so exciting. I walked in on her one day while she was watching the show, and thought I saw a guy who looked like that Bruce Jenner fellow who won some gold medals in the 1976 Olympics. But it couldn’t have been him, since that was nearly 35 years ago, and the guy I saw didn’t look like he was 60ish.

Anyway, the real reason I’m writing to you is to insult you. (I don’t normally do this to people, but I’m counting on one of two things: 1) You will never see this, and/or 2) You won’t understand a word I’m saying if you do read it).

The three of you were recently involved in what should have been an absolutely brilliant business venture: Your own prepaid debit card.

I don’t know if you realized this or not, but prepaid cards are going to be really big business. To date, they’ve been associated with underbanked consumers. But the company that I work for, Aite Group (pronounced…oh, forget it), estimates that the gross dollar volume of prepaid debit cards will exceed US$100 billion by 2014, up from a little more than US$20 billion in 2010.

You could have ridden that wave with your product. The business potential —  and marketing synergies — was there. As I was quoted in an article on

“None of these celebrities are going to get rich off of these cards — they’re already rich to begin with,” said Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite Group. “For the most part, this is an absolutely incredible publicity play.”

Shevlin said that by putting a prepaid card in the hands of their target audience, the Kardashians are attracting advertisers to their show who will come up with special deals and discounts that Kardashian fans can then hop online and use their Kardashian Kard to buy.

“I’m very convinced this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to celebrity prepaid cards,” said Shevlin. “It’s an integrated marketing play that is appealing to a lot more than just the Kardashians.”

But the very next day, bowing to pressure from a number of sources, you made the decision to kill the kard.

I’m sorry to be so insulting here, but I can only conclude that you were either greedy or stupid. Maybe both.

It’s mindboggling to me that a guy like CT attorney general Richard Blumenthal could make a comment that would influence your decision to discontinue the card. Ladies, this is a man who flat-out lied about serving in Vietnam. Hell, for all we know, the closest he’s even been to Vietnam is a Vietnamese restaurant in Greenwich, CT.

Did any of you bother to look at the fee structure of the card before lending your name to it? Did it not occur to any of you — or better yet, any of the people you must have who advises you on business matters — that these fees might possibly be seen as predatory?

If you (and/or your advisors) knew this, then you were greedy. If you didn’t know it, you were stupid.

In theory, the idea for your own prepaid debit card was brilliant. In practice, the implementation was a disaster.

I hope you haven’t ruined this for other celebrities who might be able to do something constructive with prepaid debit cards, which hold the potential to be a more cost effective alternative to checking accounts for about 14% of US households (these are people I call the Overbanked, but please don’t worry your pretty little heads trying to remember big words like that).

I hope Oprah is reading this. A well designed prepaid card from her could be an incredibly successful product.

Well, best of luck with your TV show and your future business endeavors. I look forward to your comments to my blog post.

The Marketing Tea Party

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