LaBelle's Pies Aside, Celebrity Often Not a Recipe for Business Success

Patti LaBelle has added two cakes to her line of desserts sold exclusively at Wal-Mart -- Premium Vanilla Pound Cake and Premium Caramel Cake -- following the sensational success of her Sweet Potato Pie.

Surprise! Patti LaBelle stuns Willie Geist, Tamron Hall with pie 6:57

News of the Grammy Award-winning singer's expanding enterprise, which turned the sweet potato pie, originally expected to be a seasonal holiday item, into a year-round Wal-Mart staple, prompted us to take a look at some other celebrity-created products.

Here are some notable ones that achieved tremendous success -- or memorable failure:

1. George Foreman Grill

Photo: Former boxing champ George Frazier and his namesake grill.
Former boxing champ George Frazier puts his namesake grill through the paces.

Introduced in 1994, the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine quickly became a must-have kitchen item — and remains so today. Its success springs from several factors: It's a great, innovative product that, at the time it was launched, spoke to America's growing focus on health.

Foreman, a former champion boxer, also was an extremely passionate promoter who was able to revitalize his image via the product.

"By the (time he launched his grill), Foreman was a lesser known celebrity," Rebecca Brooks, co-founder and partner at the market research firm Alter Agents told NBC News. "He really put himself out there and was so charming and cared about this product."

2. Beats Electronics by Dre

Co-founded by music producer and rapper Dr. Dre in 2006, Beats Electronics was acquired by Apple in 2014 -- a testament to its success.

The business' most famous product is its headphones, Beats by Dre, which as of 2014 accounted for 27 percent of the $1.8 billion headphone market, and 57 percent of the market for high-end headphones — those above $99 — according to marketing research group NPD.

3. Trump Steaks

Launched in 2007 to be sold exclusively through The Sharper Image catalog, this line of meats from Donald Trump, the businessman turned politician, had the platform and the product had the opulence often associated with him. But the branding move was widely panned.

Photo: Trump Steaks from Donald Trump are arranged for a photo in 2007.
Trump Steaks from Donald Trump are arrayed for a photo in 2007. LARRY CROWE / AP file

"It was an abysmal failure," Tom La Vecchia, president and founder of X Factor Media, told NBC News.

Sharper Image filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and the steaks, which were shipped to buyers in a "black and gold Trump Steaks presentation box," soon vanished.

Other abysmal failures affiliated with Trump include Trump Magazine, which launched in 2007 as a joint venture by the Trump brand and Ocean Drive Media Group and folded in 2009; Trump Vodka, which debuted in 2006 and was out of circulation by 2011 due to lack of interest; and Trump Airlines, which The Donald owned from 1989 until 1992. The airline was eventually purchased by U.S Airways after failing to turn a profit.

4. Fabletics by Kate Hudson

A relatively new example of a successful celebrity-created product line is the subscription-based sportswear line, co-founded by Kate Hudson.

Part of the success of this company, a subsidiary of JustFab, springs from consumers' trust of Hudson as an advocate of health and fitness, said Brooks.

"(Fabletics) gets to the core of who (Hudson) is as a person and why the audience connected with her in the first place," she said.

5. Nicky O Hotels by Nicky Hilton

Who better to start a hotel business than a Hilton family heir? It seemed like Nicky Hilton had it made in the shade when she planned to open Nicky O Hotels in Miami and Chicago in the mid-2000s. But the operation fell apart when the development group behind the hotels filed a lawsuit against Hilton alleging that she had breached her contract.

"You'd think that would be a natural but she failed because it's a hard business and she wasn't very good at it," asserted Brooks. "There's a skill level that needs to be involved on behalf of the celebrity in terms of their lack of ego and their ability to connect with people."

6. Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo

The rock singer and musician has found a whole new career as the entrepreneur behind the chain of Cabo Wabo cantinas.

Founded in 1991 in Cabo San Lucas, on Mexico's Baja Peninsula, the first cantina wasn't an instant success.

Hagar later bought-out his Van Halen bandmates' shares of the venture and turned up the volume. Since then, Cabo Wabo has opened locations in Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, and Hollywood.

7. The Honest Company by Jessica Alba

Co-founded by Jessica Alba in 2011, the company started out manufacturing nontoxic and ethical household cleaning products. It now has dozens of products, with a specialty in baby care and an offspring skincare brand, Honest Beauty.

The Honest business venture makes sense in part because it was inspired by the actress' own wish to make the world a healthier place for her firstborn child, Honor, said Brooks.

Image: Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba attends the March of Dimes Celebration of Babies event in her honor at the Beverly Wilshire hotel on Dec. 4 in Beverly Hills, California. Jordan Strauss / Invision via AP

"She was a new mom who saw a need [for nontoxic and ethical home product] and now has been able to expand into other areas such as skincare," said Brooks.

Most of Honest's revenue comes from online sales, but its products are also sold in major brick-and-mortar chains like Target, Whole Foods, Costco, and Nordstrom. The company is valued at over $1 billion.

8. Hulk Hogan's 'Pastamania'

Hulk Hogan's fast food restaurant, which opened in 1995 in the Mall of America in Minnesota, failed to resonate with consumers.

Hogan tried to boost the restaurant with zealous promotional efforts, but critics said his efforts came across as silly and strange and the eatery struck some as just an ego move. What's more, the connection between pro wrestling and pasta isn't very strong.

The restaurant shut down less than a year after it opened.

9. Steven Spielberg's Dive!

The restaurant industry is a tough business, even for Steven Spielberg, who founded this submarine-themed restaurant with Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The under-water themed L.A. hangout, which had a "yellow submarine" exterior, sailed for a while as celebrity hub before tanking five years after opening. It is rumored that financial reasons were to blame for its closure.

10. Paul Newman's Newman's Own

Like Alba's Honesty, the food company created by co-founded by actor Paul Newman in 1982 comes from a place of personal good will.

"Paul Newman built his business passionately around causes and charity," said Brooks. The company turns 100 percent of its after-tax profits to the charitable nonprofit Newman's Own Foundation.

Beyond being a classy company that wants to do good, it also appeals to a growing demographic of healthy, eco-friendly eaters.

Initially, Newman's Own revolved around homemade salad dressing, but soon expanded to a variety of foods, including fruity beverages, pasta sauces, and frozen foods.

In the early '90's, Newman's daughter, Nell, founded Newman's Own Organics, a line of organic foods that includes chocolate, cookies, pet food and more.