Celebrity has turned an industry onto itself. As social networking becomes ever more prominent in our daily lives and integral to the contemporary media landscape, the associated public-celebrity exchange takes viral marketing to new levels. From the intergenerational cast of the Academy Award winning film Moonlight signing on with Calvin Klein to social justice activists joining Dame Helen Mirren for an emotional All Worth It campaign from L’Oréal, this year marks a new and exciting movement in the area of celebrity marketing. Here are key takeaways from the trend:
Authenticity is key to relatability. To maintain celebrity status, being real with your audience is everything. Social media creates a level playing field. For example, the commercial impact of YouTube influencers is on the rise while major sponsorship deals are going down. People care less about brand ads and prefer to learn about products from someone they know. While a few celebrities have been reluctant to share more private details with their fans, those who do share can benefit by securing multiple deals. According to Elizabeth Dalling, founder of Special Artists Agency, “The most successful campaigns are the ones where the talent has a genuine, in-depth relationship with the brand.”
Engagement more important than the follower count. Louise Roe, author of Front Roe, states, “The lines between influencers and celebrities are merging, with the preference for brands coming down to audience engagement.” On social media, brands often look at a talent’s ability to engage a larger audience; a substantial amount of comments will yield a more powerful return than the number of likes alone. If people care, they will respond to the call to action. Nick Ede, CEO of East of Eden, considers engagement successful when the stars get personally involved in the discussions, “I want to work with celebs who are asked do two tweets, but by the end of the campaign they’ve done twenty-two.”
Appealing to the right audience is crucial. Advertisers are no longer just picking the biggest names in Hollywood (or music, sports, etc.) to represent a brand. They are choosing personalities who resonate with the values of a potential consumer niche. It doesn’t matter if it’s an A-list celebrity or a local social media influencer. A collaboration must not raise red flags over authenticity or ill intentions, as Nick Ede further explains, “When you have a celebrity who is truly engaged in the product, and it taps into a clearly defined audience, you usually have a much more prolonged relationship.” People trust voices they recognize as relevant in their everyday lives.
Celebrity marketing in 2017 will be a major focus for many brands looking to reach their customers in an increasingly competitive market. In recent years consulting companies such as the Influencer Group and Celebrity Intelligence have emerged to help potential talent and brands align their values and achieve mutually beneficial results.
Which celebrity brand collaborations or endorsements have captured your attention lately?
Jenny Truong, BFA Advertising and Contributing Editor at Social Media Center, Academy of Art University