You could call it the \u201cGeorge Clooney effect.\u201d\r\n\r\nEver since the actor launched Casamigos Tequila with Mike Meldman and Rande Gerber in 2013, more celebs than ever have rolled out their own branded bottles.\r\n\r\nArguably, 2019 represented a peak. It saw the arrival of labels from singer Rita Ora (Pr\u00f3spero Tequila) and Third Eye Blind\u2019s Stephan Jenkins (SummerGods), as well as star collaborations like Nick Jonas and designer John Varvatos (Villa One Tequila), Sammy Hagar with Guy Fieri (Santo Fino Blanco Tequila) and Michael Jordan with four other NBA owners (Cincoro Tequila). Dwayne \u201cThe Rock\u201d Johnson also announced plans for a brand (Teremana), though it wasn\u2019t released before year\u2019s end.\r\nWhy Tequila? Why Now?\r\n\u201cLike pretty much everything in the marketplace, drinks have fashions,\u201d says Ellis Cashmore, author of the 2019 book Kardashian Kulture. As long as Tequila is in vogue, expect to see the cycle continue, he says.\r\n\r\nThe spirit\u2019s success story started in 2018, when sales surged 10.2% to $3 billion, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. There was particularly strong growth among the premium and super-premium luxury segments, often the same bottlings that bear celebrity names.\r\n\r\nThere are a few reasons for Tequila\u2019s rise in popularity. For one, it\u2019s generally viewed as cooler and more complex. Its broad reach doesn\u2019t hurt either. Blanco Tequila appeals to those who favor white spirits, while barrel-aged reposados and a\u00f1ejos draw whiskey and brandy traditionalists. Its familiarity factor also helps. Margaritas, made with Tequila, are one of the world\u2019s top-selling cocktails.\r\n\r\n\r\nBuilding a Reputation\r\nAs for the celebrity connection, some champion Tequila because of a bond with Mexico. Others, like Jenkins, believe it has wellness benefits, while several, like Ora, enjoy Tequila\u2019s association with celebrations.\r\n\r\nAnd don\u2019t discount the top reason stars endorse any product: \u201cFive letters beginning with \u2018m\u2019,\u201d says Cashmore. \u201cIt was once considered vulgar and undignified to give approval to a product in exchange for money, whereas today it\u2019s almost sine qua non of being a celebrity.\u201d\r\n\r\nMarketers have long sought to attach famous names to goods, with some pointing to royal warrants as the earliest form of endorsement. Celebrity testimonials in print started around 1890, reaching a fever pitch after World War I.\r\n\r\nAthletes and Hollywood stars largely avoided alcohol endorsements during Prohibition years. But that began to change in the 1940s and \u201950s, as names like Lucille Ball appeared in ads for Schaefer Beer and other brands.\r\n\r\nCashmore credits Elizabeth Taylor as a key pioneer in the transition to ownership. The film legend championed a fragrance line, and especially the White Diamonds perfume, as distinctly hers.\r\n\r\nThe move now serves as a template for those who want to be more than just a face for brands. \u201cShe insisted she was involved in the perfume\u2019s development,\u201d he says. \u201cShe ended up making more money from White Diamonds than her movies.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nStaying Relevant\r\nEvery trend eventually turns, however. Clooney exited the booze biz when Casamigos was sold to Diageo for a cool $1 billion in 2017.\r\n\r\nThe debut of Tres Comas A\u00f1ejo Tequila certainly signals the laughable level of superstar saturation. Launched in 2019 as a collaboration with the HBO comedy Silicon Valley, it\u2019s named for the \u201cthree commas\u201d used to set off numerals in a billion dollars.\r\n\r\nIts press release quotes Russ Hanneman, a fictional character on the show who\u2019s portrayed by actor Chris Diamantopoulos, proclaiming the bottling is \u201cthe only Tequila acceptable for billionaires.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe campaign echoes the trajectory of Tequila Avi\u00f3n, which debuted in 2010 and was heavily featured in the HBO series Entourage. The ultimate score in product-placement at the time.\r\n\r\nFor now, though, the category shows no signs of slowing. As of press time, country-music trio Midland\u2019s Insolito bottling is hitting shelves, while pop-music group Backstreet Boys continues talks to break into the business.