How Brands Can Use Celebrity Endorsements to Connect With Customers Online
Celebrity endorsements need to be approached carefully, manipulated thoroughly and utilized effectively in order to reap the full benefits. When looking for a celebrity to represent a brand, it's important to know what the expectations of having that celebrity endorsement are. Does the brand hope to connect to a larger audience? Does the brand lack an identity? Is the brand reinventing itself? Whatever the reason for seeking out a celebrity endorser, a brand should approach the situation with a specific goal in mind. Even then, choosing a celebrity to endorse an entire brand can be complicated. Not all celebrities are equal.
Different celebrities will accomplish different things for a brand as an endorser. Instinct would have us choose the celebrity with the most fans because more fans mean more customers. While this strategy works in some situations, it's not necessarily the best plan of action. There has to be some sort of collaboration or connection between celebrity and brand. A brand's ambassador or endorser shouldn't be some random celebrity.
Even if a celebrity has millions of fans, if there's no synergy or relation between the brand and celebrity, those millions of fans will only care about the brand as long as the celebrity is involved. Unless there's a reason for a fan to like a brand beyond the fact that his or her favorite celebrity is on its billboard, then that brand can kiss those fans goodbye if it ever decides to use another celebrity.
Social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr are great resources for finding what and who is currently trending. Look for users similar to your brand's target audience. Learn their likes and dislikes and essentially "stalk" their social media profiles. If those users don't outright mention their favorite celebrities, then at least there will be plenty to go off of in order to choose a worthy alternative.
Take advantage of existing connections and fan bases, too. Celebrities serve as channels between buyer and seller. If your brand is seeking an audience that happens to follow a certain celebrity, then it should have that particular celebrity endorse its products. Endorsements are most effective when the celebrity's audience already overlaps with the brand's desired audience.
Another factor to consider is the type of advertising that the brand typically uses. Today there are so many resources available for marketing. There are traditional mediums like billboards and TV commercials, but also newer digital mediums like social media and text messaging. While most celebrities use social media and digital communication, there are celebrities who avoid it. Look for celebrities that already engage and connect with fans via your brand's preferred method of marketing.
The benefits of celebrity endorsements are extensive, but there can be drawbacks as well. For one, celebrity endorsements can be expensive. In addition to merchandise, celebrities demand millions of dollars to endorse a product or brand. Celebrity endorsements can be risky, too. Like all humans, celebrities sometimes get in trouble. When a celebrity gets in trouble, though, the whole world knows about it. If that celebrity happens to endorse a specific brand, that brand is now "criminal" by association and could potentially lose followers as a result.
In the marketing world, a celebrity is only as valuable as his or her public image, and if that image becomes tarnished in any way, it's usually bad for business. Just as a celebrity has the power to attract individuals to a brand, he or she has the power to deter individuals all the same.
Alex Cotraviwat is the founder and CEO of The Marendo Group, a full-service creative, marketing and branding company in Los Angeles.