There’s no doubt that celebrities have immense power and influence in our world today. From Kim Kardashian to LeBron James to Lady Gaga, stars and influencers advise people on what to wear, what to buy, and even who to vote for.
Brands incorporate celebrities into their media strategies as a way to capitalize on their magnetic draw and influence. While partnering with a star can certainly maximize brand exposure, celebrity engagements aren’t necessarily an easy win. In fact, they require a significant amount of consideration and planning.
If you’re contemplating a celebrity partnership or endorsement for your brand, I encourage you to consider the pros and cons before bringing a celeb on board.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Celebrity Partnership
The upside to partnering with a celebrity is . . . that you get to work with a celebrity! With proper care and planning, celebrity partnerships can help brands take their media exposure to the next level. At their best, these engagements offer:
- Star power. There’s a certain amount of cache that comes with engaging a celebrity. When a star endorses your product, you instantly capitalize on the buzz they generate just by virtue of their status.
- Huge networks of influence. Many brands have decent social media followings on their own, but it’s hard to compete with a celebrity’s numbers. Selena Gomez, for example, has a whopping 219 million followers on Instagram. The reach you get from an A-lister who posts a picture of your product is impossible to beat.
- Trust. People are hard-wired to believe that if a celebrity they like endorses a product, then that product must truly deliver on the brand promise. If Julia Roberts trusts Lancôme with her beautiful, glowing skin, why shouldn’t the rest of us?
- Media coverage. Celebrities are guaranteed media magnets. When a star joins you for an event or press conference, the media will likely follow close behind, regardless of what’s competing in the news cycle.
There are potential risks and responsibilities associated with any celebrity partnership. Anticipating the potential pitfalls of a celebrity relationship can help you avoid an unfortunate situation and damage to your brand.
- Liability issues. Any mistake a celebrity makes is inevitably subject to the court of public opinion. When your brand is linked to a public figure, you risk taking the fall right along with them. Be sure to conduct due diligence and check for skeletons in the closet before partnering with a celebrity. You don’t want an inappropriate comment or a tweet from 10 years ago to suddenly resurface and become a PR crisis for your brand.
- Poor brand representation. No matter what, you’ll never have full control over a celebrity’s actions. Unfortunately, some public figures fail to uphold their end of the bargain as soon as they think the cameras are no longer rolling. Remember the Britney Spears mishap where she was caught drinking a Coke while she was Pepsi’s brand ambassador? I once witnessed a little boy asking a celebrity athlete for an autograph at a client’s store opening. To my horror, the athlete said “no” to the child. We intervened and he got the signature, but it’s questionable if that boy’s parents will buy anything from that brand again.
- Over the top fans. Brands are often unprepared for interactions between celebrities and the people who worship them. Don’t get me wrong, fans can be wonderful! But there’s no predicting their behavior at celebrity events. In an appearance with football superstar Rob Gronkowski, I had to stand between Gronk and a fan who wanted his autograph . . . on her chest. Ultimately she was escorted out without further incident, but the moral of the story is that competent security is crucial to any event featuring a famous person.
- High investment. Celebrities are expensive! In addition to upfront talent fees, expenses for accommodations, food, and additional security can add up quickly. And that’s not even accounting for the miscellaneous requests stars are notorious for, like only wanting a certain color of M&Ms, olive oil or sage tea for their vocal chords, or Evian for face-washing.
The bottom line is that leveraging star power to grow your brand can be an extremely effective PR strategy when you fully understand what you’re getting yourself into. In my next article, I’ll share strategies for making the most out of a celebrity engagement, so be sure to stay tuned!
If you’re interested in pursuing a celebrity partnership or endorsement, I’m here to help. Reach out to me and let’s discuss what you have in mind.