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Celebrities on Sale

A couple of months ago, I got a flyer from a celebrity procurement company that advertised its clients at a discounted price. My first reaction was to laugh…how degrading, I thought? It is actually advertising people―human beings―as items on sale. My second thought was, goodness, times must really be tough. But my third thought, which is probably the most relevant to my daily life, was how can I leverage this humorous, sad and potentially advantageous situation.

Tough economic times have caused many companies to “update” existing products instead of introducing costly new innovations. (In fact, 75 percent of new products fail to earn more than $7.5 million during the first year of availability, according to Anne Berlack, EVP at Information Resources Inc.) But, it is marketing these updated products to which celebrities can often add the most value. So, as companies wonder, “How can I maximize the impact of the message I am trying to relay, bring credibility to this ‘not-so-new’ product and get it placed in the media?” a celebrity spokesperson may be the answer.

When deciding to use a celebrity spokesperson, there are some key questions to ask:

  1. What is the product? What’s the messaging you are trying to deliver?
  2. Who is your audience? Is it women, men or maybe teens?
  3. What type of media are you trying to secure? Women’s publications? Local newspapers? Specialty Web sites?
  4. What type of celebrity is most appropriate for the brand? An expert? An entertainer? An advocate?
  5. How do you plan to use them? An event? A paid media tool (SMT, ANR)? Web site?

Once you have answered these questions, it’s time to think about who the right celebrity is. Some things to think about when doing this are:

  1. Find a celebrity who has a connection with your brand. Try to find someone who uses your brand so messaging doesn’t seem forced. Look for someone who resonates with your target audience.
  2. Conduct a background check. You want to make sure the celebrity you select does not endorse a competing brand, or doesn’t have any skeletons in the closet (note: It never fails, these always come out right before you are about to announce the connection between your brand and the person.)
  3. Have options. Although you think one celebrity might be the perfect fit, others may not agree. If you have options, you can come to an agreement on someone who works for everyone.

So, as you think about ways to make a splash, with a product that isn’t so splashy, consider a celebrity spokesperson. And if you think you can’t afford it, remember that many of them are on sale.

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