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Celebrity Branding Is Making A Comeback - Tips for Success

What do the words “celebrity branding” mean to you?

If you’re imagining washed-up actors and old athletes plastering on fake smiles and parroting a rehearsed speech while holding your product next to their head for twelve seconds (all for an outrageous fee, of course), then you’ve been missing out. We’ve come a long way since then.

I’ve been on both sides of the camera for this sort of thing, both hiring celebrities to endorse various products and putting my own mug on camera to help promote a product I care about. Cee Lo Green, 50 Cent, the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, etc., have worked with me to give products a little push.

No two products are the same, and no two situations are the same, but celebrity endorsements are almost always a powerful boost to a brand.

So if you’re planning on getting some star power behind your product, I have a few points for you to consider.

First of all, make sure you’re clear on the difference between a celebrity endorsement and celebrity branding. An endorsement is the traditional paid statement sort of advertising, where the celebrity is paid to say nice things about your product. This can still be effective, although as audiences continue to become more and more jaded you might want to look into other approaches.

Celebrity branding, on the other hand, is all about using a celebrity’s position of prominence to start a conversation. It’s meant to make your product more visible, to get people talking about it and genuinely considering its merits.

This is what most celebrity placements look like on the internet these days. With the fragmentation of markets and the spread of social media, consumers are quick to recognize and discount a paid endorsement. A conversation starter from a celebrity to a large group of dedicated followers, though, is guaranteed to generate some serious interest in your product. To put it more simply, celebrity endorsement is the 20thcentury; branding is the 21st.

One of the most talented celebrity branding experts is Lisa Gal, owner of Hollywood Swag Bags. I took some time before this week’s column and chatted with her about what makes successful celebrity branding campaigns tick.
Celebrity Branding Is Making A Comeback - Tips for Success
“We have two clients, really: the big, established brand, and the new upstart trying to break in. The first thing you need to do is figure out which of those camps you’re in, because that’s going to shape your campaign and choice of celebrity.

Big established brands are usually trying to maintain or expand their market share with already-successful products. Usually they have something that people love and that celebrities already recognize. Their challenge is always keeping things fresh and interesting―doing something new without losing what makes their product great to begin with. Usually they find that they get a lot more bang for their buck with a few carefully-placed celebrity gifts than with a huge blanket advertising campaign.

On the other hand you have the small guys, the little boutiques trying to break into the market. They don’t have the cash for a big advertising blitz, but that’s okay―they do have a great product, and if they can get it into the hands of someone with a huge, active twitter following then they can make it big. A successful placement can be huge for the little companies, opening up other venues for distribution―online stores, brick-and-mortar retailers, etc.,” said Lisa.

One of Lisa’s most successful placements was a jeweler who included a beautiful, un-mounted gemstone on a prong in each gift package along with a note: 釘ring this stone by our shop and we’ll mount it for you.

This was a smart approach because it was engaging and led to further interaction between the recipients of the gifts and the jeweler. Also, because jewelry is something that is incredibly subject to personal taste, merely putting a generic worked piece in each gift bag was likely to be an expensive waste.

That’s what I mean by building a relationship―it’s not just about putting something in their hands and getting them to say they like it. The modern world has moved away from mass media and onto social media. Your celebrity partners have built up relationships with large numbers of fans via twitter, Facebook, and the like, and it’s this network of relationships that you’re trying access through your relationship with them.

“Honestly, this couldn’t exist without social media,” says Lisa. “I had one celebrity tweet their entire gift bag, bless them. We never pay directly for endorsements, but usually we’ll make donations to charity in a celebrity’s name if they mention a certain gift.”

A successful celebrity endorsement is now a tweet or Instagram post about how much they love your product along with an image of them using it. Even better is a link to your own social media presence, and a public conversation. It’s the internet equivalent of the host of a potluck praising the dish your brought; everyone is going to be after your potato salad recipe afterward.
Source: www.forbes.com
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