n. A dead celebrity, particularly one used to endorse products.
Revenues from delebs are already rising as rights companies become more aggressive about advertising and product deals, says Reeder, whose company represents estates including Albert Einstein, Andy Warhol and Johnny Cash. … [A] deleb cannot be caught sniffing cocaine or punching a nightclub bouncer.
—Katie Allen, “Yves Saint Laurent tops dead celebrity earning league,” The Guardian, October 29, 2009
Images of deceased stars have long been used in advertising. The most recent trend is for digital enhancement of images, seamlessly integrating "delebs" into current situations and, in some cases, putting words into their mouths.
—Louise Jack, “The man in black to walk the line again as a marketing icon,” Marketing Week, April 30, 2009
2008 (earliest)
Steve McQueen is a legend that many celebrities like to emulate, but few do," said Diana Brobmann, senior manager, new business development and product licensing at GreenLight. "The use of Dead Celebs (or as I call them 'Delebs') such as McQueen, continues to increase in the marketplace.
—Samantha Loveday, “GreenLight races in with Steve McQueen deals,”, June 19, 2008
Similarly, Japanese chain Uniqlo brought in the likes of Alice Roi, Phillip Lim, Lutz & Patmos, Jones and Maruyam to create special limited edition lines for its stores. "It's a reality that's not going away, but it runs the risk of having some backlash if there is too much," Robert Burke, founder of fashion consultancy Robert Burke Associates, said of the "delebrity" phenomenon.
—Marc Karimzadeh, “The Delebrities,” Women's Wear Daily, December 11, 2007