10 Successful Ways of Using Celebrities in Marketing

celebrity sells celebrity marketing

Harnessing the power of celebrities can reap huge rewards for your brand.

Celebrity driven campaigns have mixed results historically. Some are incredibly effective while others fail.

When celebrities selected don’t fit the campaign properly or are used in a way that has proven to be unsuccessful, campaigns fall short.

Best selling business author and brand expert, Hamish Pringle, is formerly Vice Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and now a strategic advisor to brands and agencies.  His book, Celebrity Sells, demonstrates the power of famous people to sell brands and offers practical advice on how to develop and advertise a brand using celebrities.

Here are Hamish Pringle’s top ten ways celebrities are used successfully in advertising along with my thoughts:

1. Celebrity as Presenter

“Just because this is the most obvious and straightforward way of using a celebrity to promote a brand doesn’t mean it’s ineffective – on the contrary.”

Celebrities are particularly effective launching a new product or new campaign focusing attention on the brand cutting through the clutter your target audience is bombarded with daily.

2. Celebrities Playing Themselves

“By definition the star should be well-known to the audience and is thus able to convey instantly an enormous depth of imagery and associations.”

Consumers love a glimpse of what their favorite celebrity is really like and what they really think.  Seeing and hearing celebrities deliver on television is more powerful than social media.

3. Celebrity as Brand Character

“It’s already been emphasized how important it is for there to be a big idea at the core of the communication for a brand. Once this has been created, then using a famous star to play the part is one of the most effective ways of establishing long-running brand building campaign.”

A celebrity’s acting ability makes or breaks this campaign. Don’t get caught up in name recognition and career arc, select the most talented actor/actress.

4. Celebrity Expertise

“Many celebrities have become famous because they’re very good at something. This is particularly true in the world of sport and the use of stars as role models to promote particular brands of footwear, clothing or other equipment is one of the longest standing applications of celebrity to brands.”

The celebrity’s expertise, personality and performance ability must closely align with what the brand stands for.

5. Celebrity as Role Model

“In a way every use of a celebrity in a brand campaign has an aspect of role modelling to it. However, there are some market sectors where the technique is used in such a way that it encourages customers to project themselves into the persona of the celebrity and to use the fantasy involved as their own R&D.”

Arguably, the most effective way to use a celebrity. Especially effective with younger consumers.

6. Celebrity Cast Against Type

 “One way of doing this is for the core idea to give an insight, real or imagined, into the star’s personality that enhances the entertainment value and thus involvement of the audience. Hence the creative technique of ‘casting against type’ in which the campaign idea plays off the received view of the celebrity’s personality.”

With a big campaign idea and the right celebrity personality to support, the rewards of exceeding marketing objectives quickly and a long term association with the celebrity are well worth any perceived risk.

7. Celebrity Acting a Part

“So having got a big brand idea, using a famous person to act the part can make it even bigger.”

Taking a big brand idea which can be executed by any actor and making it bigger using a skilled celebrity actor who is capable of bringing the idea to life can be game changing results.

8. Celebrity Revelation

“A carefully constructed creative idea with the right stars cast in the action can use ‘revelations’ to communicate key messages about the brand in a more powerful and engaging way.”

Not used often, celebrities open up with ‘revelations’ and in doing so communicate key brand points. Revealing something new or very personal raises the interest level with fans especially if several spots are shot with multiple ‘revelations’.

9. Celebrity Interacting

“There’s something rather intriguing about the idea stars with no connection in their professional showbiz lives being and juxtaposing the imagery can produce a potent new cocktail.”

Multiple stars from different parts of the celebrity world put together in a campaign is a powerful way to build awareness quickly and be unique among commercials using celebrities.

10. Celebrity Representations

“This creative approach is a fascinating use of celebrities in that it employs cartoon or 3-D versions of them as opposed to the real live ones.”

Lots of creative choice here as the cartoon version is much more open to whatever the script calls for. Celebrities are more comfortable ‘letting their hair down’ in this scenario doing something totally off-base.

I highly recommend you read Pringle’s book, Celebrity Sells, because there are very few books analyzing why celebrity endorsement works and none with so many impactful case histories.

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Three Reasons Why Celebrity Marketing Works For Brand Advertising

Hamish Pringle, author of Celebrity Sells, has a playbook to share with brand marketers about celebrities in advertising.

“Brands striving for significant increases in volume, share & distribution have utilized celebrities to meet those objectives”.

Best selling business author and brand expert, Hamish Pringle, is formerly Vice Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, and now a strategic advisor to brands and agencies. Pringle identifies three macro factors challenging marketers and how celebrities can quickly and positively impact a brand. Pringle explains that,

“Given the power of celebrity and its attractiveness for millions of people, it seems highly likely the role of famous people in promoting companies, products and services will grow and be one of the best ways of securing permission to communicate with customers”.

Here is my synopsis of Pringle’s ‘why celebrities work for brands’:

1. Celebrity and interactivity

  • A celebrity used properly plays a critical role in an integrated campaign and will “provide one of the most powerful pieces of image glue” available.
  • With much more customer ‘pull’ and less manufacturer ‘push’, celebrities’ ability to bridge across all media becomes more important.
  • Media is changing so quickly and a celebrity’s’ versatility helps produce integrated brand communications differentiating from the competition.

2. Celebrity in the era of consent

  • Brands have to work much harder making themselves viable, credible and trustworthy in order to be invited in over thousands of messages bombarding consumers.
  • Pairing your brand with a desirable celebrity is like creating an all access pass to the consumer’s inbox.
  • A celebrity’s image, voice and branding gives a brand multiple options with interactive technology.

3. Fame is the key

  • Celebrities carefully chosen will provide meaningful resonance and positive disposition which leads to ‘subscription’. Perhaps this is why the use of celebrities is one of the more powerful techniques in advertising.
  • The brand must ensure that it achieves high awareness, favorability and likeability. One way of doing this is to associate the brand with another personality in whom the public have confidence and whose opinion they respect.
  • The right celebrity, established with an audience or fan base which is relevant, and who has created an atmosphere of trust around themselves, can give the brand a powerful third-party endorsement and positive halo effect.

Pringle writes:

“Before a product can be bought by anyone, it has first to find a place on a scale of fame. At the very lowest end of this scale is simple awareness. At the highest end is global celebrity”.

A celebrity’s stock and trade is fame. Brands can trade on a consumer’s obsession with celebrities and fame and create more effective advertising.

Click here for more information about Hamish Pringle’s book, Celebrity Sells.