There has been a lot in the press recently about celebrity endorsement and the new transparency rules for Twitter. With a recent story in PR Week also revealing that just 16% of 23-25 year olds feel influenced by celebrity endorsement, why do we PRs bother?
Celebrity endorsement can play an effective role in many consumer PR strategies. Consumer media are, and will likely continue to be, celebrity obsessed … and so are their readers. Admit it, you love a sneaky peak at the gossip magazines to find out what your favourite Kate has been up to, be it Price, Moss or Middleton.
The point is, celebrity and showbiz pages have a huge readership and for a brand to be mentioned on those pages can be highly impactful. The only way for brands to get a look in though is to team up with a celebrity. Teaming up with a celeb is all about brand synergy – identifying someone who embodies your product or brand and therefore adding credibility.
The challenge is recruiting a relevant celebrity ambassador to channel our message meaningfully and directly to the target audience, and who fits into the following criteria:
- Someone who the media will want to talk to – somebody current and who has a lot to talk about,
- Someone who is a relevant ambassador for the brand or product – we’ve all got a bit savvy as to how brands use celebs to promote their wares so the partnership has to believable, and
- Someone who is of interest to the consumer audience the brand is trying to talk to.
So who has done it well? L’Oreal with Cheryl Cole: the company reported a huge spike in red hair dye sales after Cheryl famously dyed her lovely long locks. As one of the biggest household names in the UK, she is in high demand. Media aren’t just interested in her hair however. Every aspect of her private life is documented in the press and most showbiz journalists would sell their left arm (and in some cases their Nan) to get an interview with her. What is clever though is Cheryl created a whole new style trend, giving L’Oreal a discussion topic which didn’t involve cheating husbands or tropical diseases. This meant that the brand could communicate their message effectively whilst still being relevant to the publication and its readers. In summary, she was worth it (sorry).
And who hasn’t done it so well? Costa Coffee with Peter Andre. Peter is known to be a coffee lover so teaming up with a coffee brand makes sense. However, he is regularly papped coming out of Starbucks and makes no secret that he loves their coffee. So a rival brand paying him to like their coffee instead doesn’t really work. It got worse when Costa and his management asked all media who were attending the launch event to sign a contract, restricting them from asking Peter questions about his private life and only allowing questions about coffee. Now, why would a showbiz writer want to write about coffee and nothing else? It’s no wonder the 3am girls got a bit narked… well more than a bit. They published a copy of the “ridiculous” contract and made a mockery of the entire partnership. I’m not convinced it helped Costa sell much coffee either.