How to Effectively Leverage an A-List Celebrity for your Brand

By October 20, 2015Strategy

It is all the rage now: start a company, team up with a celebrity, make a few billion dollars.  At least that is how it seems to be. Beats by Dre, Honest Company with Jessica Alba, a lot of massive companies are growing their business via partnership with A-list celebrities. On the other hand, there are plenty of examples of celebrity partnerships that have failed to take off or crashed due to scandal. Two prominent examples being: Kate Moss for H&M and Michael Phelps for Kellogg. The question becomes: what makes some partnerships succeed and others fail?  We have worked with many celebrities brands, including: Lauren Conrad’s Paper Crown and Tamar Braxton’s Tamar Collection. We have seen a few consistent themes that lead to success.

Below, I have listed four key things to look for when considering a possible celebrity partnership for your business:

  1. Do the celebrities personify what your brand wants to be?

Celebrities are a great shortcut to establish a brand identity.  Jessica Alba is that sweet, happy mom that cares about her kids.  Dr. Dre is that cool, confident music mogul.  Both of these celebrities personify what the Honest Company and Beats customers strive to be. Brands are manifestations of consumers aspirations. These brands’ messages resonate with their customers because they help the customer move from point A to B in their lives.

  1. Understand they will only drive so many sales

Celebrities’ connections and followers are valuable, but you can get that for a lot cheaper than a piece of your company.  Most of the time an A-lister’s following is almost like raising a seed round.  It can get traction and proof of concept, but then you need to start putting money into growth. This won’t just happen by itself.

  1. Make sure your celebrity is entrepreneurial

Still looking at the two huge successes, Jessica Alba and Dr. Dre, notice they actually went to work.  They participate in their business, they help spread the word, they leverage their connections, they use their innate talent for branding that got them to their level of celebrity in the first place.  Most talents are looking for a check (be very aware of this). Find the people that are really looking to work to create something.

  1. Do not rely on the celebrity

This is incredibly important.  The celebrity should be looked at as a boost, not the most critical piece.  If your business won’t work without that celebrity, then your business will not work. Period. They should be an asset to the marketing mix not the entire thing! You need to have a great product, team and process in place. Then, just use the celebrity as a leg up.  Do not make the mistake of having just another product and thinking a celebrity will make people care.

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