14 May 2012
Alice Baker, Senior Account Executive

Celebrity endorsement: brand superheroes?

Kelly Brook

Celebrities are a special species – we watch them, read about them, follow them on social media channels, have their pictures on our bedroom walls when we’re growing up as well as use them to endorse brands. They are everywhere we look. In fact, I’m hard pushed to think of a product that doesn’t have a link to a celebrity. Sometimes it seems as if celebrities have super-human powers!

Using celebrities to endorse a brand is a tried and tested practice and one that is often used by PR consultants. After all, celebrities are, essentially icons for the public and the charisma and popularity they impart encourages media attention and encourages brand engagement for consumers. Nevertheless, collaborations of this kind don’t always turn out rosy and success is dependent on several key factors.

Endorsements do carry an element of systemic risk. At the end of the day celebrities are only human and human errors do occur. There are fundamental questions that need to be asked before confirming any type of collaboration:

• How can this person represent and even enhance a brand and a company’s sales?

• Will this celebrity relate to our target audiences?

• Will the endorsement make the story newsworthy?

If the answer is no, to any of the above, then it’s time to stop and rethink. Ultimately the chosen celebrities should convey trustworthiness, expertise and, most importantly, credibility.

A recent campaign we completed on behalf of our client DFDS saw us team up with local Kent personality Kelly Brook for the launch of a new Dover-Calais route. The partnership was ideal - both the ‘brands’ were from Kent and Kelly is very popular among DFDS’ target audiences. It was a match made in heaven. We were confident that her endorsement would bring real value to our client’s brand. Plus, with continued public interest in her career, regional and national coverage was a certainty.

The event was an overwhelming success with 101 pieces of coverage in total, including 13 national newspapers both in print and online, and 16 broadcast pieces with BBC South East and ITV Meridian attending on the day.

But, endorsements aren’t always a success story. Many will remember Tiger Woods’ debacle in 2010 that saw him dropped by his sponsors at Gatorade and Gillette following his admission that he was unfaithful to his wife. Woods subsequently lost respect and credibility of the public, which in turn was damaging to the brands he represented and he was dropped almost overnight.

No partnership or PR campaign is ever foolproof, be it with a celebrity or not, however, with a little forward-thinking and some thorough due diligence on the proposed celebrity, businesses can avoid making celebrity partnerships which could cause damage to a reputation. As experienced PR consultants we’re able to cut through all the glitz and glam and know when celebrities can really add value. So, make sure you don’t get star-struck, and only use endorsements if it works for you and your business objectives.


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