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Partnering with the right celebrity can present a very lucrative opportunity, providing exponential brand equity and an instant rock-solid connection with consumers. But the wrong partnership can be harmful to the point of destroying the brand.
This is why it’s so important for brands to make sure they partner with a celebrity that has a very high likelihood of success. One of my business ventures, 10PM Curfew — a female-focused media network that includes @style and @girls on Instagram and TikTok — has a celebrity partnership in place.
We took partnerships one step further, as actress Bella Thorne is my co-founder. I’ve seen the impact of celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing first-hand through this journey, as well as with my other companies.
I believe that we are going to see many more meaningful celebrity brand partnerships in the future — more so than standard pay-per-post influencer marketing. This is why this business model is so effective, and why I believe it’s the future of marketing.
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Celebrity partnerships give access to an on-demand audience
One of the most difficult aspects of launching a brand is the initial advertising and marketing. After all, nobody knows a brand exists when it’s new. So you need to creatively and effectively position it directly in front of the consumers you anticipate will have an interest in what you are offering.
The amount of trial and error and testing required to scale can be exhausting — both in time and financial resources. A celebrity partner gives the brand instant on-demand access to their following. It’s like opening the floodgate right away — there is no trickle effect or slow ramping or scaling.
Not only is the initial audience large and targeted, but the marketing message can be natural and organic. Celebrities carry their brand, so they don’t have to push hard and force that marketing message down the throats of their audience.
Consumers have become immune to paid influencer campaigns. Years ago, when the concept was fresh, brands would simply pay influencers with a large following. No creativity was needed -— hold up the product, tag the brand, and watch sales pour in. That doesn’t work now.
If a post isn’t natural and organic or if the product doesn’t gel with the audience the results will be horrible and the influencer will damage their relationship with their followers. Authenticity is key.
For example, an authentic and natural social media post including a product and tagging it can be highly effective even without mentioning the product in the post’s caption. This type of on-demand audience is priceless and since the marketing approach doesn’t have to be force-fed, it creates an opportunity with long-term potential.
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They let you deliver authentic marketing messages
If a brand is working with a major celebrity on a per-post agreement, they need to maximize each post and drive as many sales and as much revenue as possible to justify (and continue) that relationship.
Let’s assume a beauty brand is paying an A-List celebrity $250,000 for a single post. They are going to want a post with prominent exposure of their product and a caption that has them tagged. It’s going to read a bit like an advertisement — because that’s what it is.
When a brand is partnered with a celebrity they are going to have more freedom when it comes to access to that individual’s social media reach. They can have a much more authentic approach. Over time the posts could include the product without even saying anything and it’s going to drive more brand-value than an overly promotional one-time paid post.
Consumers are becoming immune to blatant advertisements on social media. Just look at the comments — often you will see the celebrity’s fans bagging on them for doing paid posts.
Celebrities give your brand instant credibility
A traditional new brand launch will involve advertisements across several channels, with social media being a major focus. Why? It gives brands access to the largest audience and the platforms, like Facebook and Instagram for example, provide extensive targeting options.
But, when a consumer first engages with an ad for a product they aren’t going to pull the trigger immediately and convert into a customer. They might do a little research or read reviews online — and that is why remarketing and retargeting are highly effective.
It takes multiple “touches” to get a consumer to convert into a customer. You can bypass that with a celebrity partner simply because that barrier is removed. Your brand receives instant credibility because celebrities inspire consumer confidence.
Someone that is introduced to a product via a celebrity feels instantly confident about the purchase decision, which is why influencer marketing is so effective. The celebrity brand partnership takes that concept up another level.
This approach can instill even higher confidence because the audience knows the celebrity is involved in the brand. The audience is also more likely to support the brand knowing the celebrity has a vested interest.
This is a trend that is spreading across all industries. Take the highly competitive beverage industry, for example. Conor McGregor is part of Proper No. 12, the Whiskey brand, and Ryan Reynolds was part of Aviation Gin, which was recently acquired for $610 million.
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They lead to long-term sales benefits
When a brand is paying for an influencer or celebrity on a per-post basis they have a very short window of time to leverage that post. Many deal terms will stipulate that the post will only be live for a certain agreed-upon amount of time (typically anywhere from 24 to 48 hours). After that, the post is gone.
So it’s a short-term approach and the goal of these campaigns is to drive as much website traffic as possible while the post is live. Brands know that they aren’t going to convert all of the traffic so that short-term celebrity endorsement requires focusing on data collection.
Brands need to have their website highly pixelated, collecting data for every platform they advertise on, so they can retarget and remarket to all of that traffic.
They then have to hope the consumer will remember them — and each time they interact with that consumer there is a cost associated with it. With a celebrity partner, a brand receives long-term sales and loyalty, which can be priceless.
I believe Aviation Gin is a great example of just how powerful a celebrity partner can be and the type of consumer buying power they attract. The company was started in 2006 but didn’t pick up steam until Ryan Reynolds came on board. It was then a household name; his involvement most definitely contributed to attracting acquisition offers.
As retail continues to die a slow painful death and more big-box stores shift online, I expect to see more large brands develop celebrity partnerships to help thrive in an e-commerce world.
The shift online will also free up a tremendous amount of operational budget (no more expensive brick and mortar retail locations or staff), so the affordability won’t be a question.
This strategy is working for many and I expect to see it leveraged even more by larger brands moving forward.
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