Getting celebrity endorsements is great, but you know what’s even better? Getting celebrity endorsements for free. Aside from the obvious benefit of saving money on hiring a celebrity spokesperson, you also reap the benefits of the celebrity being more vocal and passionate about your product, which increases the likelihood that the buying public will try your product out for themselves. Like it or not, people can tell when a spokesperson doesn’t fully believe in the product they’re endorsing, and it can have a negative impact on your sales as a result.
Of course, it’s very easy (and a little obvious) to say that you should try to get celebrity endorsements for free; the tricky part is figuring out exactly how to secure those free endorsements. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a few ways to tackle this problem, and by following these steps, you might find yourself with some promotion from someone who can reach a massive audience- for free.
Find an Existing Fan of Your Brand
If a celebrity already has an affinity for your brand, you’re halfway to securing a free endorsement from them. And, as mentioned above, you can practically guarantee that the endorsement you get will be received by the buying public as genuine and enthusiastic.
When you identify a celebrity fan of your brand, the first thing you should do is reach out to their manager or publicist and offer to send them free product for their client. If you’re feeling bold, you can let their manager/publicist know that you’re sending the product in the hopes that the celebrity will post about it on social media. If you’re not (or if you’re not sure that will go over well), you can still send the product and hope that the celebrity posts about it organically. But if you want to be sure you get something in return for sending the product, it’s always best to explain what you’re thinking.
And make no mistake, this method works. The clothing brand Joyrich saw on Instagram that Trill Sammy was already a fan of the brand, so they sent him some free product. Sure enough, he posted the brand on his Instagram. Another example is Uber- they often offer free ride credits to celebrities in return for social media posts about the brand. Again, it’s best to include some sort of personalized message to the celebrity that clearly outlines what you’re hoping they’ll do with the product (i.e., promote it on social media), which made the letter Joyrich sent to Trill Sammy a nice (and effective) additional touch.
Invite Up-and-Comers to Sample Your Product
So what if you don’t know of any celebrities who already have an affinity for your brand? Simple: you give them the opportunity to try it out and establish that affinity. Los Angeles-based clothing brand Popular Demand has done this very effectively, reaching out to artists’ managers and publicists and inviting them and their client to their warehouse to pick out some clothes for themselves (for free, of course).
This method requires a little more research (and a bit more luck)- it’s most effective when you can identify an up-and-coming artist to try your product rather than a firmly-established celebrity (since already well-known celebrities may not want to take time out to try your product). Popular Demand has also effectively targeted up-and-comers like Chris Brown and Sage the Gemini; this allowed them to establish a relationship early on and build affinity and trust between the artist and the brand. And as a result, those artists have ended up wearing their products in photo shoots and music videos, so Popular Demand spent nothing more than the cost of the wholesale materials for a boatload of free advertising and celebrity endorsements.
Use Your Brand to Solve a Celebrity’s Problem
The best celebrities to target are the ones who are active on social media. An endorsement from someone like Kendall Jenner is much more valuable over time than someone like Johnny Depp (who is barely active on social media), even though Depp is arguably the bigger star. By monitoring celebrities’ social media accounts, you can get an idea of their “pain points”; do this often enough, and you’ll come across a celebrity expressing frustration about a problem that – guess what? – you can solve with your product. From there, it’s just a matter of contacting the right people on their team and offering to help them out of their predicament.
A great example of this is Lyft’s work with Kendall Jenner. One day, Kim Kardashian tweeted that she had to drive Kendall around all day because Kendall was banned from Uber. Uber’s response on Twitter was a request for Kim to send them a DM to discuss the issue (which is a terrible response in its own right, since nobody wants to go back and forth with a customer service rep over Twitter). Meanwhile, Lyft quietly swooped in and, using their product, actually solved Kendall and Kim’s problem.
The result was a ringing endorsement from Kendall on Twitter and Snapchat, and it effectively demonstrated that Uber wasn’t the only game in town. Best of all, this promotion didn’t cost Lyft anything- in fact, they actually made money on Kendall’s fare, and then received a massive amount of free, positive publicity for their work.
In all of these cases, brands did their research, waited for the right time to present themselves, and were able to effectively address a celebrity’s needs or wants. While the traditional route of offering a celebrity money to promote your product is still effective, not every brand can afford to pay for celebrity endorsements. Instead, by going the extra mile for the celebrities they were targeting, they ended up with free promotion. And best of all, it was organic- rather than a simple billboard or product placement, the fans of the celebrities got the impression that the celebrity really did love the product and are therefore more likely to actually use it. All of this adds up to a huge win for any brand.