Zehnder Communications, Inc.

7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring a Celebrity Endorser

It’s no secret that a celebrity endorsement – big or small – can prove worthy of its high price if done right. But given today’s media landscape (think TMZ, The Smoking Gun, Reddit, and the endless pool of social media), celebrity endorsements can also be quite risky for a company. The public has more access to big-name and local celebrities than ever before – and celebrities have more access to the public, too.

Want to know who you should hire to endorse your brand? Ask yourself these seven questions before signing on and spending big with a local or national celebrity.

  1. Does my audience even relate to celebrities? This is the first question to ask yourself. Take, for example, Miller High Life’s “I am Rich” campaign, which revolves around the mundane – yet glorious – life of an extremely average Joe. Instead of using star power to woo their audience, MillerCoors decided that their audience wanted to relate with everyday authenticity.
  2. Does this celebrity’s off-stage lifestyle align with my brand image? Let the recent Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson scandal serve as an example that a celebrity’s star power can’t always outweigh flaws in his or her personal life. When you’re choosing a celebrity to work with, go for someone who truly embodies your brand image, on and off the stage (or field).
  3. How naturally does my product/service fit with this celebrity? When people see a celebrity known for one thing endorse something outside of his or her celebrity arena, it can get confusing. For example, rapper 50 Cent and VitaminWater’s healthy flavored waters: kind of a stretch. Actress/mother Jessica Alba and The Honest Company’s organic baby products: makes total sense.
  4. Do I have a crisis plan in place? Ann Edelman, Zehnder’s Director of Public Relations, recalls a past project affected by a large Pepsi campaign with Michael Jackson. During a video shoot for the brand, Jackson’s hair caught on fire – completely postponing the campaign and negatively affecting multiple media channels. After the fiery fiasco, Pepsi scrambled to find backup materials to use instead – but had none on hand. Be prepared for anything when working with a celebrity, and remember not to put all of your eggs (that is, promotional content) in one basket.
  5. Does this celebrity inspire my audience? A perfectly matched celebrity for your brand can inspire your audience to become better versions of themselves. For example, many of Electrolux’s female audience members would aspire to have Kelly Ripa’s upbeat attitude, strong family values, spotless kitchen, and perfectly cooked home meals – making her a great endorser for the brand.
  6. Does this celebrity have emotional ties to my brand? If a celebrity has emotional ties to a brand, he or she is more likely to truly believe and support the brand on and off the stage. Take Matthew McConaughey’s recent commercials for Lincoln cars, where he confirms that he as Matthew McConaughey – not he as an actor – believes in the brand. In one commercial, he states: “I’ve been driving a Lincoln since long before anybody paid me to drive one. I didn’t do it to make a statement. I just liked it.” Although McConaughey’s role in Lincoln Lawyer certainly helps connect him to Lincoln, the fact that he states his approval of Lincoln on and off screen makes the connection even stronger.
  7. Does this celebrity have local ties to my brand? In addition to emotional ties, local ties can help increase a celebrity’s loyalty to your brand. We chose to work with Mo Isom, former LSU athlete, on our Visit Baton Rouge campaign – because her local fame and passion for her city (in addition to her amazing personal story and strong values) made her a perfect fit. The Visit Baton Rouge audience supports Mo, and Mo is eager to support them, too.
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