Celebrity Marketing: The Who’s Who in a Celebrity’s Entourage



Knowing each members role in a talents team greatly increases the chance your offer will be accepted.

When deciding which celebrity to hire for a marketing campaign, it is important to remember that you are not just solely dealing with the celebrity. Talent comes with a team of various people that ensure the best deals, treatment, and representation. Celebrities rarely travel alone and will likely bring a member of their team such as an agent, publicist or manager during campaign related activities. These people handle various business and personal needs, and are often referred to as a celebrity’s “entourage.”

Before a celebrity arrives to campaign related events, it is important to know the role of each member on a celebrity team –

Agent: Commonly referred to as a talent or booking agent, this person finds jobs and handles the career for the celebrity that has employed them. It’s likely that marketers will deal with agents when attempting to recruit talent for campaigns or endorsements. Agents help their clients get auditions, communicate with casting directors, work on contracts so their client gets the best deal and arrangements, etc. Various types of public figures have agents such as actors, authors, directors, musicians, models, professional athletes, and even screenwriters.

Publicist: A publicist’s job is to handle their client’s relationship with the media, and help generate and manage publicity. Publicist’s tasks include arranging interviews and public appearances, handling press releases, organizing social media accounts, and advising on how to handle bad publicity. Unlike agents and managers, publicists often work for a flat fee instead of a percentage of the talent’s income.

Attorney: Most of the work of an entertainment attorney involves drafting contracts, negotiation, and mediation. These attorneys cover various areas including media, and legal fields such as corporate, finance, intellectual property, and privacy. Entertainment attorneys work with agents to finalize contracts for various projects, including compensation and participation. Some attorney’s job descriptions have become comparable to those of a star’s agent, manager or publicist; they are not limited to paperwork, but assist in building their client’s career.

Manager: Celebrity managers wear a variety of hats in their job, and have the ability to act as agents, publicists, contract negotiators, etc. Their responsibilities and duties can vary widely on a day to day basis. Managers help celebrities create daily schedules, create long-term career goals, give financial advice, and help to hire other members of a celebrity’s team. They are often the closest team member to a celebrity, which is why many enlist their parents or other family members to serve in this role.

Stylists: Stylists, or a celebrity’s “glam squad,” is a crucial part of their entourage. During filming and other campaign activities, celebrities can require their personal hair stylists, makeup artists, and wardrobe team to attend various events. Celebrity stylists can often times be costly, and have their own individual representation teams.

Label and/or publisher (if dealing with music): A label or publisher is the person or company that handles the issuing of music, images, books, or other works for sale and use in the entertainment industry. If marketers are looking to use a song in their campaign instead of a celebrity, they would go through the label or publisher that has the rights to said song.

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Five Negotiation Tips to Use with a Celebrity Marketing Agent

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Negotiate on your terms, not an agent or the other sides terms.

Negotiating contracts and offers with a celebrity and their team is often the final, and most important, part of the contracting process. After making a proposed formal offer, there is almost always a counter-offer made from the talent in which they alter some aspect of the suggested deal. Once this is done, the marketer, agency, and their associated legal teams review these changes – accepting those that are agreeable and pushing back on those that are not.

In order to have a successful experience, keep the following tips in mind

  1. Break It Down – A good way to agree on negotiations during contracting is to break the terms in to separate parts. It can often be easier to compartmentalize than take the “all or nothing” approach. By going through each component and deciding on solutions, negotiating large parts of a contract can seem less overwhelming.
  1. Research and Use Facts – Let the celebrity’s team know that the contract offers are in line with industry offers, standards, and pricing. When successfully negotiating, it is important to separate personal feelings from business; this makes it easier to justify the requests being made. Avoid making negotiations seem personal by using terms such as “I believe” or “I think,” always choose hard facts and list examples.
  1. Prioritize – Decide which elements of the contract are most important, and which can include some leniency. While negotiating, know the top priorities (usually the business or money-making opportunity) and how other details and sections categorize under that. The celebrity may have different priorities, so know which are the most important for both sides.
  1. Make Offers and Compromise – During the negotiating process, it is important for both sides to feel they’ve made a good deal. Don’t start the negotiating process by revealing the bottom line, leave room to meet the celebrity’s team halfway. Offers should always leave space for compromises on both party’s parts, and leave both sides feeling like something has been achieved on their end of the contract.
  1. End on a Positive Note – Find points of agreement throughout the contract and end on a positive note, this leaves the potential to work together again in the future. Agreeing on certain elements of the negotiation helps to set a positive and collaborative tone throughout the project. Creating a positive environment and work experience helps move along the project, generates progress, and may result in agreement on various aspects of the contract. You’ll be working with and wanting consensus or approval from the agent. It’s important for your campaign’s success to conclude the negotiation on a positive note.

The negotiation process will continue until all the items are fully aligned by both parties and a final contract is agreed upon. This may not be achieved in just one revision; there are many different variables that dictate how long the process may take.

source: nolo.com
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Celebrity Marketing: How to Create an Appealing Offer Letter

Anyone can create an offer letter, but there are ways to frame it so the celebrity is more likely to say yes.

Managing your brand may entail overseeing an agency or brand executive which is responsible for obtaining a celebrity’s endorsement.

Here’s a ten point checklist ensuring the offer has the highest probability of acceptance:

  1. Set negotiation parameters, don’t have them set for you. Unlike television shows such as Pawn Stars & American Pickers, it’s in your best interest to frame the potential investment by making the initial offer. This takes away an agent’s ability to start with a dollar amount you won’t like.
  2. Allow room to negotiate. Your initial offer probably won’t be accepted so leave room to negotiate. Both sides want to feel they receive concessions making this doubly important.
  3. Making a “low-ball” offer is offensive. The offer will be dismissed immediately with no second chances. Celebrity agents have large egos and celebrities have even bigger egos. An agent doesn’t want to look bad in front of their client so low-ball offerings don’t receive consideration.
  4. Do the thinking for them. Present the benefits in writing so they can be shared amongst multiple decision makers (agent, manager, publicist, celebrity, family, posse etc.). Present all of the reasons to say yes.
  5. Assume nothing. It is unlikely the agent will see all benefits or communicate them as well as you can.  Be sure to review the benefits again by phone.
  6. Split the Baby. Allowing room to negotiate makes it possible to split the difference on dollars if all other terms are agreed upon.
  7. Read the Tea Leaves. Is the celebrity’s career currently hot, warm or cold? Price can change daily based upon their perception and the laws of supply and demand.
  8. If you ask how much, you lose all leverage. Asking how much exposes you as inexperienced and in some cases “an easy mark”. This is a green light for an agent to be more aggressive on price and services.
  9. Be Flexible. One way to get agreement in negotiations is to have asked for all services you need plus additional services which are not necessary. “Giving in” on services is a proven way to close.
  10. Understanding the Fair Market Value.  If you don’t negotiate celebrity deals on a regular basis go online and research sports celebrity deals as a starting point. Media generally provides an estimated dollar amount which you could use as a base. Assume television, print, radio, digital and social media are part of the deal.

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Celebrity Marketing: Five Barriers to Completing an Endorsement Deal


Negotiating directly for a celebrity has pitfalls.

Brand marketers and agency executives often complain about how difficult it was to close a celebrity deal. It doesn’t have to be a horror story. In fact, it usually is a win-win for both parties. Here is my list of the five biggest barriers to complete a celebrity deal:  

1. Call or email me back!

The biggest complaint is I can’t get an agent to respond! Why? Because agents receive so many inquiries many are “fishing expeditions”, requests that go nowhere. Most executives say the response back, or lack thereof, was a bigger issue than money or negotiations.

2. Who is the real agent?

Also troublesome is the person claiming to be the agent actually is not the exclusive agent. When a non-exclusive agent is involved, he or she inevitably will have to work with the legitimate representative, and tack on an additional fee. These added dollars may come as a percentage (between 10%-25%) or as a flat fee on top of the deal.

Even worse, this third-party may be enough to kill your deal .  Most marketers make the mistake of assuming the agent who claims to be agent is the actual agent.

Oftentimes, it’s hard to tell if agent, manager or publicist make the ultimate decision.  How would a novice know this type of invaluable information? 

Even worse, your offer may never reach the celebrity because the agent may fear the non-exclusive agent will try to steal their client. Agents do not want to involve others who may pose a threat to their exclusive representation! Knowing the difference between who is legitimate and who is a leech looking to profit, is often the difference between delivering or destroying a deal.

3. Unknowingly signing a celebrity with “baggage”   

Background information on celebrities is more important than ever. But how does your company uncover the kind of information needed to make an educated decision on an endorser? This information is seldom available to those who do not track celebrities on a regular basis.

The worst scenario involves negotiating and reaching an agreement only to find out the celebrity has a past which does not match the corporate image you want to project. Of course, there are no guarantees that a celebrity will remain a good citizen, but the least you should do is consult an expert about what due diligence needs to be done.

4. Having a negotiation drag on and on and on and then die

I worked with a brand marketer who was negotiating directly with a top tennis star’s agent/father. The executive was forced to spend over eight months in negotiations only to be turned down for no other reason than “they just aren’t interested.”

Holding out can drive the celebrity’s price up, as the agent realizes the longer they wait, the more “under the gun” you may become.  Agents work for celebrities. If being difficult or demanding helps agents receive the best deal for their clients, that’s what they’ll do!

Time-consuming negotiations are typical and intentional with inexperienced executives. Negotiations take a few days to a few weeks and not longer in almost all cases.

5. Being labeled as a “one-timer”

When a brand marketer or advertising agency calls an agent directly, the deal is viewed as a one-time opportunity to max earnings & creates little or no incentive to negotiate.

Mistakenly, most executives do not give proper weight to leverage in endorsement negotiations when many times it is the strongest point they may have on their side.

Having a history of bringing multiple deals to agents is an invaluable volume leverage for a brand trying to keep costs in line. A celebrity agency/expert can provide significant volume leverage and savings for a brand it lacks on it’s own.

Celebrity negotiations don’t have to be long or contentious. They should be done quickly and create a win-win partnership.

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Four Overlooked Cost Factors Which Kill Celebrity Marketing Deals

How to land the celebrity you want within your budget.

Your brand needs to increase sales, market share or awareness. You’re launching a new brand or perhaps trying to quickly build credibility and fame. Using a celebrity will help accomplish one or more of these objectives.

Celebrities have become an integral part in the American advertising industry selling everything from financial services to fast food to foreign coffees. Who has not seen Michael Jordan selling Hanes or Jamie Lee Curtis endorsing Activia? While some brand executives have successfully used celebrities, others have been burned paying too much, negotiating too long and receiving too little.

Here are four factors that are not usually apparent to even the most savvy brand executives, yet still significantly influence the costs of celebrities:

1. What are the key channels?

What media outlets will this endorsement include? Once upon a time, Hollywood actors/actresses didn’t care what the mix is while sports celebrities stars cared. Today, with the pressure in music and entertainment to promote albums, concert tours, movie or television projects, what is the right media mix combination to keep fees in line? What matters most to celebrities & agents? Surprisingly, some celebrities may want extra exposure and not charge extra to for additional outlets.

In-depth knowledge of each celebrity’s preference is what keeps your brand from vastly overpaying and not receiving the desired value from an endorser.

2. Other Endorsements

Another factor which greatly influences price is other endorsements or promotions a celebrity has at the time of your inquiry. Recently, I negotiated a much lower price for the overall endorsement contract of a high-profile athlete with a national brand because I suggested the client purchase a substantial amount of the athlete’s book. The client bought the books and both sides were happy with the results.

In another instance, I suggested to a major retailer they donate a portion of the endorsement money to the celebrity’s favorite charity. This suggestion enabled them to make a lower than market value offer look much more attractive. The celebrity agreed.

3. Boosting Visibility

With today’s professional contracts and shoe/clothing deals averaging in the millions of dollars, many athletes view the endorsement arena as a place to boost their visibility, rather than their bottom line. Smart agents realize the leverage he or she has with teams by having their client’s visibility enhanced through endorsements. Hollywood celebrities adopted a similar view leveraging a larger number of brand endorsement deals to differentiate themselves. Ten years ago, actors saw themselves as artists who for the most part, felt endorsements were beneath them and their acting craft. Times have changed with Hollywood celebrities now getting the great majority of brand endorsement deals.

In a recent negotiation with a Cy Young Award winner, the agent confessed that,

“It is not about the dollars we can make on this deal. We are looking at getting (him) out there in front of corporate America for future deals.”

Jeff Sperbeck, a respected agent who represents current and retired NFL stars such as Denver Broncos Super Bowl quarterback and now the team’s Executive Vice President, John Elway, states:

“We look for the most well-rounded deals for each athlete, that means the potential to grow with the endorsing company, compensation and where this opportunity fits with this person’s image.”

4. Time Commitment

Today’s celebrities work or train year-round and free time is extremely limited. Therefore, the less time devoted to an endorsement the better. B level and C level celebrities who help meet your goals cost less and generally have more time to execute services.

Knowing the best ways to minimize time yet maximize results is crucial.  Bundling services efficiently at the commercial shoot and media days can make the entire opportunity more attractive & and successful for the brand.

For example:

  • Having the script well before the shoot
  • Preparing wardrobe or giving information on dress code in advance
  • Utilizing a stand-in before the celebrity arrives to take care of lighting, placement, etc.
  • Having a conference call to discuss general ideas, mood, etc. prior to setting expectations

These tips may seem obvious, but many advertisers forget or do not follow these simple plans.

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