Brands Partnering With An Influencer: Proceed With Caution

A Quick Study on Endorsements

Celebrities as brand endorsers is surely nothing new. Famous people have helped connect brands to pop culture for decades. Nike and Michael Jordan. David Beckham and H&M. Beyoncé and Pepsi. Need we say more?

And over the past year, an increasing number of clients have asked us to select, procure, and activate celebrity partnerships in relation to live-event series and experiential campaigns. In response, we at NVE have spent substantial time developing our celebrity-endorsement perspective and process.

Today, we share that perspective with you.

First, let’s get a few things straight.

Aligning a brand with a celebrity is an unparalleled opportunity to plug a brand into a social ecosystem and amplify the brand message to an exponentially larger audience. But most of the time, the celebrity-endorsement path does not achieve its full potential. In order to be effective, we must get creative with how we activate these partnerships. The celebrity activation needs to be more than a paid tweet from a live event or an “organic” photo in front of the brand logo.

There must be a quantifiable goal associated with the endorsement. We see many instances where the celebrity is a big name but somehow does not return a measurable result to the client. Generally, this is because the alignment lacks authentic credibility with consumers. When it is not believable that the celebrity embraces the product in real life, the alignment can actually hurt more than it helps. (Buick’s U.S. sales dropped 54 percent during its 8-year partnership with Tiger Woods.)

The most effective endorsements are when the partnership is real and symbiotic, when the brand and the celebrity align seamlessly. And most importantly, success is won or lost in whoever is most effective at using the social springboard to amplify this authentic message to the largest audience.

Where Endorsements Meet Experiential Marketing: The Brand Spectrum.

We know the above considerations are paramount when integrating traditional celebrity endorsements with experiential marketing. That’s why we have a two-part process we follow when looking to identify a celebrity with whom to pair.

First, the endorser must complement the brand’s characteristics that guide the experiential marketing strategy ¾ we at NVE call this compass the “brand spectrum.”

We determine a brand’s experiential marketing spectrum by working through a series of personification exercises in relation to a brand’s intended activations. Analyzing through the NVE lens, we consider adjectives, analogies, archetypes, and other techniques to tease out the “personality” of a brand’s events.

Second, we put potential influencers through our influencer filter:

NVE Influencer Filter

So the next time your brand looks to incorporate an influencer into its marketing strategy, remember the importance of establishing an authentic relationship.

NVE is an experiential marketing agency with offices in Los Angeles and NYC. At our core, we believe the right moments will transform someone forever. NVE helps brands create these moments by translating brand messages into beautiful, engaging, and authentic brand experiences. Celebrity engagements are handled in-house by our NVE Talent division.

Collectively, NVE has decades upon decades of experience in producing brand experiences. Our team includes: