Jobs: Now, MBAs are competing against Justin Timberlake, too.

Well, not really … but it sure sounds like that..

Working with celebrities used to be a simple matter.

Marketers would write a big check for a star to perform a specific purpose — for Olympian Mary Lou Retton to grace boxes of Wheaties, or for model Cindy Crawford to don short-shorts and sip Pepsi.

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Now, according to AdAge, brands aren’t just featuring celebs in marketing campaigns — they’re giving stars a place in the marketing suite. 

Big brand names are going beyond celebrity endorsements and hiring celebs for actual marketing jobs, giving them titles like Brand Manager, Creative Director, and even CMO.

Here’s what’s happening …

The model for these tie-ups is a “partnership” — anointing A-listers with lofty titles like chief creative officer, head of creative design, chief innovator and brand ambassador.

Just last week Marc Jacobs was named “creative director” for Diet Coke.

A day later Justin Timberlake said he was looking forward to his role as “creative and musical curator” for Bud Light Platinum.

Other bold-face names in marketing-related roles include Alicia Keys (BlackBerry); Beyonce (Pepsi); Taylor Swift (Diet Coke); Lady Gaga (Polaroid); Gwen Stefani (HP); Victoria Beckham (Land Rover); and Will.i.am (Intel).

Styling celebrities as ambassadors is an attempt to position the tie-up as more authentic at a time when consumers have become more cynical about endorsements.

Everyone knows what a brand endorsement is. You can pay a celebrity to say anything.

There’s a greater authenticity that comes with having a celebrity influencing the business so that it’s not just a face on the brand, right?

Obviously, there’s a catch: Marketers must make sure their “ambassadors” are a genuine match and haven’t previously shown loyalty to a rival brand.

In the wake of BlackBerry’s recent announcement that Alicia Keys would serve as its creative director, critics pointed to her use of an iPhone days earlier to tweet. 

So what do real creatives think of celebs getting these titles?

Most is hype, but no doubt some people become celebs because they are truly creative people, so why not experiment?  If brands are doing it for PR buzz, it’s a stupid idea. … the work must still be great.

Who knew there were so many brand managers walking red carpets?

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Excerpted from adage.com’s, “More Than a Pitchman: Why Stars Are Getting Marketing Titles”

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