Questioning if a celebrity is right for your branded product? Looking to explore the benefits of having a celebrity or influencer involved with your project? Been contacted by an agency that wants to collaborate? Have a friend who has internet fame and wants to collaborate on a joint venture? Here are some items to consider when thinking about having an endorser for your branded product:
There are numerous ways to craft an endorsement, but here are some of the basics
Spot Post (meaning one time post) or overall Social Media Sponsorship is where the collaboration extends solely through the environment of posting to social media with some form of product placement. An example can be found on Instagram when one views a celebrity’s post containing “paid partnership with Brand” or more more discreetly complete the post caption with the hashtag “#ad”
Event related Sponsorships allow for branding to be placed on concerts, stand up, or even backstage. Physical environments (or even some types of digital) that showcase branding and celebrity association would also live in this category. Think of the companies that often financially back concerts, tours, or even present the opportunity for the celebrity to do what they do best.
Full Endorsement Sponsorship covers the ground where product or service endorsements are directly tied to a celebrity career for years if not entirety. A longer term opportunity here tends to enable more depth to the association of the brand and celebrity; think of corporations that sponsor Olympic athletes as an example.
On occasion, opportunities beyond full endorsement are provided as official partnerships in business. Circumstances such as co-ownership of a brand, joint ventures, or venture capital tend to allow the celebrity to fully participate in the brand in entirety. In some cases, celebrities will also co-collaborate forming a group of celebrities that have their own entrepreneurial focus.
Having an analytical and aesthetic foundation enables a ‘best fit’ scenario
What makes an effective endorsement? The consumer’s perceived benefit.
To start, there needs to be a specific rationale behind an endorsement, otherwise it may lack merit and come off more like a novelty strategy to the consumer, which rates differently for authentic tones. New products, new re-brand, or new demographic market attempts are just some of the reasons that facilitate a message perception that could be absorbed well by the consumer.
Having a product & demographic market fit is essential. This can be identified by asking if the celebrity has a genuine appeal to the brand and the brand has a genuine appeal to the celebrity, if the audiences have a match (think of each audience as its own circle in a Venn diagram). The ability to identify if either, or both, enhance an existing audience, or capture a completely new set of eyeballs is helpful to evaluate for improved consumer engagement.
Dialing down the forecasted brand lift can be tough. It’s helpful to identify a generalized review of the size and characteristics of the celebrity’s audience, their average engagement over time, and how they best connect with that audience. If the lift is intended for an existing product, the effort should be focused more on performance and growth style marketing as opposed to pure play brand identity. For example, the goals and results will differ between the option of partnering with a celebrity to be at a product distribution event compared to presence in a Super Bowl commercial or even a discussion on an interview with Oprah, each which drives sales or engagement differently. Then compare all of these options to the concept of a freeway billboard campaign. Point being, results can be influenced by the creativity and the channel of engagement with the celebrity to the audience. In general, have a strategy on how to capture the intended outcome with approval and collaboration of the celebrity.
It is also noteworthy to evaluate the tone and relevancy the celebrity has with both brand audiences. How is the celebrity rating in the media and their reputation? Where have they been for the past few years? Are they relevant? Is there a recent action that they are lining up that both parties can benefit from? Do they promote a good brand to target consumer identity? I.e. brand safe. Are there any risks of toxic image? These questions should also be identified how the product impacts the celebrities image. A thoughtful approach.
Resources enable quality, depth of relationship, and the ability to pivot any endorsement experiment.
An endorsement effort can get costly really fast and often is regarded as resource intensive. With direct costs such as product adjustments, research & development, sampled product, compensation, and extended promotion budgets, make sure to budget your effort accordingly with wiggle room.
Each time should be considered and entered as a calculated experiment where there can be huge long term lift, swift lift to the brand reach, or even sometimes no lift at all with the campaign falling right on its face. In essence, downside risk should be managed as best as possible on the front end in planning with both teams.
Enabling economic alignment is one possible avenue to help facilitate both parties get the most bang for their buck. This can be performed through how the proposed structure of work and compensation is measured. Concepts such Equity structures, Revenue Share structures, Performance Bonus structures, and Base Pay compensation should be organized to have alignment of deliverables and outcomes on a schedule for both parties to have incentive and clarity.
Endorsements have been around for ages and continue to evolve in new ways
Emerging trends show this area is a growing field with new types of celebrities, influencers, and endorsers scaling their platform for multiple revenue sources. Talent management agencies are developing in-house specialists to scale products as diversified revenue streams for talent, often in highly consumer focused industries. Industries such as cannabis, wine & spirits, wellness products, household consumer packaged products have been emerging as growth sectors. Even the backend support tool companies who enable brand or celebrity connections, endorsement measurement, or simplify revenue-share tracking have evolved into scaled standalone businesses. Overall, the influence a celebrity or talent has on an audience has continued to be a major area of attention, investment, and business innovation. Our team is excited to continue to work with and watch this evolution occur.
Mike Martinez the COO of Yes Studio, LLC a boutique venture capital company. Many of Mike’s initiatives have been in emerging industries such as legal cannabis, technology startups, and consumer products. Read more of Mike Martinez’s thought leadership here.