Editor’s note: this story first appeared in the Spotted Quarterly Report on Q1 2018
The success of Black Panther is a true triumph of blockbuster filmmaking, and the film itself has broken countless records. According to MarketWatch:
- It’s the top-grossing superhero film of all time in North America
- It surpassed the $1 billion mark at the global box office on its 26th day of release
- As of March, it was already the seventh-highest release of all time
- It is the number one February debut of all time, racking up $202 million domestically during its first three days.
But these aren’t the only records Black Panther has broken — it has also helped to challenge a problematic and long-standing Hollywood myth that films with predominantly African American casts don’t sell. As senior entertainment research analyst Jeff Bock told The New York Times in mid-February, “One by one, these unwritten Hollywood rules about what audiences supposedly will and will not support are falling by the wayside,”said Bock.. “I think about it like a wall crumbling. In terms of ‘Black Panther,’ no studio can say again, ‘Oh, black movies don’t travel, overseas interest will be minimal.’”
While Black Panther will be key in helping eliminate this box office myth, will its success translate to changes in how celebrities are selected for endorsement and partnerships? Based upon Spotted’s research findings, the immediate answer is “not yet.”
Overall, white celebrities still make up the majority of celebrity partnerships, with our research pointing to 47 new celebrity endorsement deals and campaigns announced in Q1 2018 featuring white celebrities. Only 12 new celebrity endorsement deals and campaigns announced in Q1 2018 featured African American celebrities.
So, even with the massive success of a film like Black Panther, why are many brands still not partnering with African American celebrities?
Let’s look at a few things here. For one, a few of the celebrities above like SZA and Cardi B were used for multiple partnerships. Two of the partnerships and endorsements (Lexus and Brisk) included the stars of Black Panther. This makes you wonder: why do marketers feel limited when it comes to working with African American celebrities?
These endorsements above are also all outside the realms of luxury, fashion, and apparel, with the majority of the endorsements being with more accessible consumer brands. For luxury, fashion, and apparel brands, this is a huge missed opportunity. By not working with African American celebrities, brands are missing out on appealing to more diverse parts of the market. Meanwhile, consumers that look up to black celebrities aren’t seeing their role models in ads or campaigns.
According to a report from the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, African American buying power, estimated at $1.2 trillion in 2016, will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2021, making it the largest racial minority consumer market. As Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, co-author of a Nielsen report on the “untold story” of black consumers and Nielsen’s Senior VP for Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, wrote, “Companies who aren’t addressing that issue now are going to find themselves a bit out of sorts when the minority become the majority.”
Spotted’s research findings were recently covered in a story by The Drum, in which Spotted CEO Janet Comenos was quoted as saying:
“My instinct is that many decision makers at brands and agencies may simply identify subconsciously more with white celebrities. There’s certainly some risk involved with any celebrity endorsement, but that’s true for endorsers of any background – which is why marketers need to use real data and insights to drive these crucial decisions, not just their gut and personal judgment.”
She continued: “It’s frankly a huge missed opportunity. By limiting themselves to white celebrities, brands are missing out on appealing to diverse parts of the market. We’ve seen celebrities of color who appeal to a massive range of consumers for brands across industries.”
Report: The State of Celebrity Endorsement (Q1 2018)
To gain deeper insights into the trends, issues, and opportunities shaping the celebrity endorsement industry and its performance, get your copy of the Spotted Quarterly Report on Q1 2018.
Pulling from Spotted’s database of over 22,000 brands and 12,000 celebrities, the report provides exclusive insights into:
- The brands celebrities had the greatest natural affinity for in Q1 2018
- Which celebrities saw the greatest rise in relevance and which celebrities were most stagnant in Q1 2018
- The up-and-coming celebrities gaining the most momentum right now
- The top consumer segments to watch and which celebrities may be able to help you best resonate with them
- Consumer perception of Q1 2018 celebrity endorsements and partnerships
- The larger cultural trends that may be influencing endorsement
By reading, we hope you feel more well-equipped to tackle your celebrity strategies in Q2 and the year ahead.