When a brand selects the wrong celebrity for an endorsement deal or campaign, it can offend and turn off target consumer audiences. But looking back internally, who at the brand is affected when an ill-fitting celebrity is selected for partnership? Unlike some other marketing decisions that exist in a silo and may affect only a few people, a poor celebrity endorsement decision can send shockwaves across brand teams: brand image tarnished, campaign budget wasted, lack of ad effectiveness and consumer engagement.
Despite the wide-sweeping impact these highly visible celebrity decisions can have on the organization, they are often made by one marketer (or maybe a small group of marketers).
When celebrity decisions are made in a subjective manner without involving other teams, the marketer puts him or herself on the line while also negatively impacting the work and results of their colleagues’ efforts. No marketer wants to be the one to explain to their coworker on a different team why their budget is in danger due to an important call made without their input.
In order to gain a better understanding of why celebrity endorsement decisions should be made with full alignment across teams, let’s take a look at the three brand teams that are impacted by both positive and negative endorsement decisions — and how each team is impacted.
1. The Brand Marketing Team
The Brand Marketing team works hard to establish and maintain the tone of the brand, and that’s no different for celebrity strategies, for which they are tasked with choosing celebrity partners who embody said tone and represent the brand publicly through their words, actions, supported causes, and more. While painstaking efforts are taken to ensure that things like campaign creative are on-brand and in alignment with brand guidelines across media channels, marketers often invest in celebrity partners who are not aligned with the brand’s traits, values, or even the creative.
This creates a confusing disparity among target consumers. They won’t find the celebrity to be a believable representation of the brand’s traits and values. Confusion then leads to a lack of ad memorability. And all other notions they previously had of the brand are painted in a negative light, overshadowed by the glaring differences struck by the mismatched endorsement.
Think of it this way: imagine if Target all of a sudden decided to take their circle target logo and replace it with squares. You may not even recognize them as the same brand. For a more specific, real-life example, Microsoft Office’s recent work with Nicole Richie elicited confusion. The software brand partnered with Richie on a series of live video workshops on Facebook, and if you look at the comments left on the various videos, you’ll see that many consumers were left wondering, “Why Nicole Richie?”
When people see a brand-celebrity partnership and think, “This feels really random,” it creates a conflicting perception that can be confusing, jarring or even alienating in some circumstances. The best way to avoid a situation like this (while also maintaining and uplifting brand image) is to fully consider how the celebrity’s image, personality and attributes align with those of the brand.
2. The Advertising Team
Once a celebrity partner is selected and the creative and messaging for the campaign has been defined, the brand’s Advertising team is tasked with making sure that the content is distributed properly across all relevant channels.
While it’s crucial that the Brand Marketing team ensures brand-celebrity alignment, celebrity endorsement is also a question of whether or not the endorsement is right for the channel where the creative is being deployed. If the right celebrity is not chosen for the right channel and audience, there is the very real chance of the endorsement having little to no impact.
Look at the example of Aston Martin’s partnership with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. While Brady is a massively popular celebrity, he also has a largely regionally-specific audience and resonance concentrated in New England. This likely affects the efficacy of the U.K.-based brand’s advertising efforts, who have stronger appeal with more affluent, international audiences.
To ensure that the celebrity campaign gets in front (and grabs the attention) of the right consumers, marketers can start by digging into the demographics and behaviors of the celebrity’s audience. Where are they concentrated geographically? What media channels do they spend the most time on? What does their household income look like? Asking questions like these from the start will help to avoid campaign effectiveness issues down the line.
3. The Consumer Engagement Team
Once the campaign and advertisements have been deployed, the Consumer Engagement team enters the picture, whose success is measured by how engaged consumers are with the brand’s creative and advertising.
The Consumer Engagement team helps to ensure the success of media and advertising campaigns. The team is typically held to very high standards when it comes to meeting retention goals and maximizing engagement levels through personalized and relevant messaging. If the message (i.e. the celebrity) isn’t relevant to the brand’s core consumer base, then this team stands no chance of achieving their goals.
To help guide the brand’s celebrity strategy and selection process, the Consumer Engagement team can align with the Brand Marketing and Advertising teams on their primary and secondary consumer targets so they can work together to ensure that larger celebrity partnerships will help all three teams achieve their goals.
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Brands take serious precautions to ensure that they adhere to brand guidelines and maintain brand safety, but the same rigor is not used for highly visible celebrity partnerships. These decisions can affect the work and outcomes of so many teams (not to mention the brand’s target consumers), which is why they shouldn’t be left for a single team or person to make on their own.
Don’t Make Celebrity Endorsement Decisions in a Vacuum
Celebrity endorsement decisions can make or break a brand. This is true now more than ever in today’s social media-fueled environment, where every move a celebrity makes (from a single tweet to a controversial project) is scrutinized by the public.
Don’t make these high-risk, high-reward decisions in a vacuum. With Spotted, you will ensure that your brand’s teams are aligned and equipped with the research needed to make brand-and-career-lifting celebrity partnership decisions.
Ready to take control of your celebrity endorsement strategy? Learn about Spotted’s proven research methodology.