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Face Value

As a child, I recall collecting fan cards – you may remember them – there were ones for Young Talent Time, Neighbours, Cricket players… These glossy cards were bought and traded and served as a badge of true devotion to your idol of choice. The smiling head-shots that plastered the front of the cards featured more mullets and shoulder pads than you could poke a cabanossi stick at – and the photographers of the day used lo-fi long before it became the filter in vogue. It was a time when celebrities were out-of-reach and interactions were limited to concerts, ‘TV Hits’ magazine and Westfield shopping centre visits. It was also a time when my Commodore 64 loaded a single game in 45 minutes.

Fast-forward to 2013, a digital age where consumers have direct access and can ‘talk’ directly to celebrities from around the world using social media. With this parting of barriers, have consumers desensitised from ‘celeb factor’ and is it no longer as effective as it used to be to engage a celebrity brand ambassador?

I don’t think so.

Social media has certainly fed society’s craving for celebrity news – see here for accounts with the most followers. And when strategically executed – in selection and use – celebrity endorsement can still bring instant attention to your brand. In fact, social media has also opened up a number of additional advantages to brands:

  • Instead of just relying on a celebrity agent’s recommendation of their popularity, you can now monitor various celebrities by their social media making your selection process more effective and easier.
  • Market research of target celebrities is easier allowing you to minimise risks – you can see what they wear; how they speak; what they eat, where they go and if their followers match your target audience.
  • Having celebrities utilise their social media networks to promote your brand adds further and direct credibility to the association. The public can see the endorser using the product/service in a more personal setting.
  • With a clever approach, you can engage multiple celebrities at little or no cost to partner with your brand on their social media accounts.
  • Social media enables brand use and imagery in a variety of forms – various social networks, video and photos as well as post mentions. These can appear regularly and timed to peak campaign events.

And you don’t have to be a big brand to revel in the value. InsideOut PR recently implemented a campaign to launch a health/travel brand to the market at little to no cost. We set the brand’s market positioning and generated further coverage and awareness in a very short space of time – outperforming competitors.

However on the downside, the very nature of social media now requires brands to have tightly defined agreements. It becomes more obvious when ambassadors are spruiking multiple products – diluting the messaging of the 1:1 association. Take Jennifer Hawkins who, on top of her Myer ambassadorship, is seen endorsing super food supplements, vitamins, skincare and more. Brands also need to be mindful of minimising risks of adverse viral spread.

Nothing is worse than the celebrity caught with another brand or doing something that contravenes the brand image you have been working hard to portray. When you don’t have the strategy and experience to implement a celebrity brand ambassador, the chances of success are minimal, but when you engage a professional team to implement this for you, your company can reap the benefits of brand positioning with an increase of sales, awareness and enquiries.

We’ve seen it time and time again. Celebrities still have face value.

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