#1 To Kickstart your Brand, Use Borrowed Equity.
It can take years to establish a new brand, and millions of dollars in advertising. The advantage of hiring a star is that celebrities have well-established brands built by decades of viewership. When you hire a celebrity spokesperson, you are in effect “borrowing their equity” at a fraction of its actual value. Their name recognition, relevance, public awareness, credibility, attractiveness and likeability are valuable, and their endorsement of your product, if handled adroitly, can quickly transfer these same qualities to your brand. There is a large body of evidence that demonstrates that celebrity sells.
#2 Your Product Requires a High Level of Consumer Trust Before a Buying Decision is Made.
30 seconds of TV advertising is not enough to convince a wary consumer to trust your company with their aging parent’s retirement living, their investment portfolio, or their mortgage. Fortunately, you can leverage the character of someone the consumer already believes in to improve the trust factor – your consumer trusts long-time morning news host Joan Lunden to recommend a retirement home (A Place for Mom), Henry “The Fonz” Winkler for retirement income (One Reverse Mortgage), Tommy Lee Jones for financial planning (Ameriprise), or Sam Waterston for online brokerage services (TD Ameritrade). In each case, consumers identify with the trusted roles played by these stars, and part of this trust-identity is transferred to the products they endorse.
#3 You Need Someone to Demonstrate and Sell Your Product.
Some products need to be demonstrated to be sold – think beauty, fitness, and novelty kitchen appliances. Celebrities have spent a lifetime pitching themselves to agents, producers and directors, hosting shows, and acting in TV commercials. They are adept at selling, proficient in illustrating ideas, and can be powerful in demonstrating the usefulness of your product. It’s no accident that some of the most successful beauty products in history have been demonstrated by the likes of Cindy Crawford (Meaningful Beauty) or pitched by Leeza Gibbons (Sheer Cover). Nobody remembers the Presto Liddle Griddle, but who can forget the George Foreman Grill?
#4 A Celebrity is a Powerful Signal to Potential Customers That It’s Okay to Use Your Product.
Imagine for a moment that you own a chain of hair transplant clinics. Many potential customers worry that their post-operative hair will look like doll-hair and be immediately recognized as a transplant. They need to be convinced that it will turn out okay. How do you do this? As Dr. Robert Cialdini discussed in his seminal work Persuasion, “When people are uncertain about a course of action, they tend to look to those around them to guide their decisions and actions. They especially want to know what everyone else is doing – especially their peers.” A key testimonial and demonstration from a well-known celebrity in the customer’s peer demographic can be just the thing to convince the customer that it’s okay to go ahead with the procedure from a particular vendor. “If Joey Fatone trusts Bosley for a hair transplant procedure, then so can I.” Social Proof is an incredibly persuasive technique.
#5 Use a Star to Break Out From a Crowded Pack of Competitors.
When you are offering services or products in a commoditized marketplace, your commercial can get lost in the sea of look-alikes. How many gold companies advertise on Fox News Channel? 10? 20? Merit Gold, Leer Capital, and Goldline all have advertised there, and they all seem to offer the same product. Who are you going to remember? Chances are it’s the company endorsed by the Presidential and authoritative actor William Devane, who endorses Rosland Capital.
Want to learn more about the effectiveness of a celebrity brand ambassador? Check out these articles featured in Electronic Retailer, by Hunington Sachs and Robert Yallen of InterMedia Entertainment.
- Today’s Top DR Brand Ambassadors
- Under the Influence: Celebrities in the Sales Process
- In Grey We Trust: The Value of Celebrity Authority
Hunington Sachs is an entertainment attorney and business executive with 25 years’ experience leading and advising media and entertainment companies. He leads InterMedia Entertainment, the celebrity acquisition arm of the InterMedia Group of Companies, where he is Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs.