A celebrity spokesperson could be just what you need to get your product in front of the right audience and boost your branding efforts. However, like anything else, there are pros and cons to weigh before you choose a celebrity to market your product and/or services. With that in mind, below are some market trends as they relate to the do and don’ts of hiring a celebrity for branding purposes.
Bombarded with messaging and commercials their entire lives, today’s consumers are wise to many PR and marketing strategies. For most people a celebrity spokesperson does not automatically generate trust because of the perception that a celebrity’s endorsement has been bought, not earned (not to mention whether the celebrity actually uses the product). Most members of your target audience start out as skeptics and must be converted into believers.
Do. As you approach celebrities for possible endorsement, ask them to use your product or service as part of their decision-making process. The hope is that the celebrity will buy-in. This will lend credibility and enthusiasm to the endorsement and will satisfy your target audience’s inner skeptic.
Don’t. In your initial search for a celebrity spokesperson, don’t limit yourself to one candidate, but many. Having more than one person to use and evaluate your product for themselves allows you to choose the candidate who will most genuinely and enthusiastically endorse your product.
Celebrities have their own “brand,” which could compete with your product’s identity. Even if your celebrity spokesperson has a positive image, a marketing campaign that is overshadowed by the spokesperson’s personal brand won’t be unsuccessful for your product, no matter how many retweets, views or likes it generates. That’s because a larger-than-life spokesperson will make every appearance or endorsement about himself or herself instead of about your product. If your celebrity develops a negative image through scandal or other means, your brand no doubt will take a hit and you may find yourself in crisis mode. Just ask Subway.
Do. Be thorough in your research. Read profiles online and posting activity. Be sure to read and understand other sites and causes that a potential spokesperson may have “liked” or tweeted about. Especially important are their posts on who they stand with or support. Look at every article and headline in every media format. In short, be thoroughly familiar with your potential spokesperson’s brand and don’t give due diligence short shrift.
Don’t. Your target audience defines the type of celebrity spokesperson who will most effectively communicate your product’s benefits, so don’t fall into the trap of choosing a spokesperson based on your personal preferences. What’s considered scandalous for one group may be a rallying point for another.
Because consumers already trust and identify with your celebrity spokesperson, your product will gain acceptance with your target audience more quickly than it would have otherwise. For this reason, it’s important to thoroughly know and understand your target audience. Each generation has its own heroes. Additionally, demographic groups within a given generation identify with different public figures. What qualifies for celebrity status in one group may not even register with another.
Do. Thoroughly explore the attitudes and values of your audience(s). Research the types of movies they see (especially their favorite movies from their high-school years; nostalgia can have strong appeal). Remember, not all celebrities hail from the big screen (or even the small screen, TV). Celebrities come from every walk of life: sports, religion, politics, armed services and, increasingly, YouTube. The broader your target audience, the wider appeal your spokesperson will need to convey.
Don’t. Your favorite celebrity may be virtually unknown to your target audience. Don’t make the mistake of seeking out your teen idol to promote your product. Unless you are representative of your target audience, that expensive celebrity endorsement will fail to generate legitimate results for your product.