In the world of marketing, innovation is key. Every day, the average consumer is exposed to hundreds of different ads, commercials, billboards, etc. Over time, the vast majority of us have subconsciously learned to either ignore or block out the majority of this bombardment of advertising schemes. For example, some consumers have resorted to downloading apps and software for their smart TVs that can automatically turn off the sound during most TV commercials. Given this reality, businesses and brands in different industries need to find and come up with innovative strategies for making their marketing efforts more appealing and interesting to individual consumers.
Celebrity endorsements have long been considered the “gold standard” in marketing efforts. With the traditional celebrity endorsement, a brand is “piggy-backing” off of the immense popularity and influence that a celebrity commands. In the age of social media and digital marketing, many celebrity endorsements also mean that brands enjoy direct “access” to the millions of social media followers of the celebrity with whom they work.
Despite the fact that traditional celebrity endorsements are generally successful in increasing brand awareness and differentiation and helping a brand to achieve its predetermined marketing goals, there are always ways to improve the lure and engagement factor of these endorsements. In this brief article, we offer a few strategies and ideas for how brands can come up with more creative and collaborative celebrity partnerships.
Equity Deals with Celebrities
With social media advertising and marketing becoming increasingly ubiquitous, many consumers around the world are becoming much more discerning of how the marketing mechanisms and methods that are being pushed on them. Whereas in the past many people may have simply trusted that the celebrity spokespersons for certain brands authentically used and enjoyed the product they were pushing, today some traditional celebrity endorsement deals may seem to fail the litmus test of authenticity. For example, many one-off social media celebrity endorsements may be seen as a simple marketing ploy by their intended consumer audience.
To increase the sense of genuine celebrity support, many consumers reserve their trust for those brands who have obviously invested time and resources in developing a long-standing partnership with the celebrity. Equity deals with celebrities are one such way where brands can develop marketing schemes that portray a much more natural, authentic endorsement by the celebrity with whom they are partnering.
Equity deals with a celebrity essentially focus on offering a stake in the company in exchange for ongoing celebrity promotion of the brand and its products. In most cases, equity deals are signed with startups who do not have the financial liquidity necessary to pay for an upfront endorsement deal. For the celebrity, there exists the opportunity to invest their fame and popularity in an effort that could offer strong financial rewards down the road.
In the best-case scenario, an equity deal can offer a strategic marketing pathway, wherein both the celebrity and startup brand benefit over the long run. For example, the rapper Sean Combs, more widely known as P Diddy, signed an equity deal with Ciroc Vodka and helped that brand to new levels. Whereas many consumers believe that Ciroc Vodka belonged to Diddy from the outset, the Ciroc brand had already been started and developed before Diddy joined the team. With his ongoing support, endorsement, and a smart marketing ploy, however, the equity deal was a success for both the rapper and the company.
Though equity deals can be extremely beneficial to both parties, it is extremely important that there are clear and concise rules written into the contract regarding the expected marketing efforts and endorsements by the celebrity. The brand that is offering up a stake in their company obviously wants the celebrity to feel a sense of ownership with the brand. In short, the more involved the celebrity is in the partnership, the better the chances that the brand can achieve new heights.
Celebrity Creative Roles
Another creative way for brands to capitalize on endorsement deals with celebrities is to create innovative roles for those celebrities within their brand. These innovative roles will generally look to confer a greater sense of celebrity involvement and participation with the brand. Whereas some celebrities may not put much effort and authenticity into a one-off endorsement or social media mention of a brand, they may be more inclined to invest their time, energy, and creativity if offered a more participative role within the company.
For example, for a brand that has signed an equity deal with a celebrity, you might offer them the official role as Creative Director of the company, so that they can take ownership of some of the marketing efforts. Similarly, you might consider hiring a celebrity to become the Brand Ambassador for your company. With a celebrity brand ambassador, the famous face and personality of the celebrity can create instant recognition, familiarity, and trust in your brand. For many consumers out there, when a favorite celebrity is seen as the ambassador of a brand, this is essentially as influential a marketing ploy as an intimate recommendation from a close friend or family.
For example, Rihanna recently signed on as a global ambassador and creative director of the sporting brand Puma. She had served in that role previously, and the company decided to revive the Fenty x Puma footwear and ready-to-wear collection, which is directly associated with the celebrity singer. The result of this innovative partnership has helped Puma to carve out a niche with consumers in the extremely competitive athletic footwear industry.
On the downside, it is important to note that these creative roles for celebrity partnerships will most likely cost your company more money upfront. In some cases, you may have to give up a portion of equity in the company or settle on some sort of other long-term compensation clause. Furthermore, there is always the risk that a celebrity who acts as your global ambassador could be involved in a scandal that would reflect badly on your company.
Another similar role that brands might consider designing for a specific celebrity is related to product collaborations, wherein the celebrity is involved in co-creating products, or launching their own lines with the brand. For example, the rapper A$AP Rocky recently worked with Global Brand Equities and Gallo to collaborate on a bottle for his alcoholic beverage brand Mercer + Prince. The Mercer + Prince™ brand markets itself as “a Blended Canadian Whisky that is inspired by founder and Grammy-nominated musician, A$AP Rocky’s sophisticated taste, cutting edge style and global inspiration.” The Global Brand Equities and Gallo created a product that obviously appeals to the fans of the ASAP Rocky, and benefits from his enormous popularity.
Similarly, Global Brand Equities alongside their Irish CEO James Morrissey also helped the rapper Post Malone come up with his own wine brand, Maison No. 9. Both of these examples show how private companies can collaborate with celebrities to create specific product lines that are directly connected to the celebrity´s fame.
Social Impact Collaborations
Lastly, brands might also consider working with celebrities through innovative social impact collaborations. This form of collaboration occurs when celebrities partner with brands or companies for charity or social cause-related efforts. In many cases, these collaborations might not function as a direct endorsement of the brand. However, the association between the brand, the celebrity, and the cause, can obviously help a company gain respect and familiarity amongst consumers who care about specific social or environmental issues.
For example, during the 2020 George Floyd protests that swept across the country, Chance the Rapper was one of the most visible and vocal participants in the movement for greater racial justice in the United States. He has also set up his own youth empowerment charity called Social Works. Conagra Brands, a major food company in Illinois, recently announced that it will provide $300,000 to SocialWorks, the charitable organization founded by Chance, and its New Chance Fund which has impacted 20 schools and more than 6,800 students. Though the main focus of this support is on the children it will benefit, it also offers positive publicity for the brand.
For many brands out there, finding ways to come up with creative and innovative celebrity endorsements and partnerships might be the difference between a successful marketing campaign, and one that falls flat of the expected goals. The four ideas outlined above are just a few of the potential creative collaborative efforts that brands might consider using in their partnerships with celebrities.
When you’re ready to start doing business with celebrities, you can utilize Booking Agent Info to find the best celebrity for an endorsement, and get the contact information for their representation.