Star Struck – Finding a Celebrity for your Brand

When David Beckham came to the Mall of the Emirates recently he was mobbed. Thousands blocked the mall and security had their work cut out to control proceedings. He was coming in his role as brand ambassador to endorse Adidas as a footballing icon (even though he is an ex player).

But it is his personality, built on style, success and glamour, and yet simple boyish charm that keeps him grounded and strangely ‘one of us’, that Adidas wants to engage to reinforce their position.

Brand David BeckhamDoes it work? Is it the right match? Does his personality influence the way those people perceive Adidas? Do they believe Beckham is the man he is today because he shares an ‘All In’ approach to life with Adidas? Does it make them adore the brand, be loyal, unfaltering consumers, and coerce friends, family and their social network to join the fold?

For organizations interested in harnessing the star power of celebrity brand endorsements, the first thing to understand is this: All brands have personalities. Some are sometimes dangerously unmanaged and sometimes meticulously strategized and activated. Generating the brand’s personality is essential and born of a clear understanding of the defined purpose, position and values. They are the real conduits to the target audience beyond functional needs.

Celebrities, with their pumped up, PR driven, ultra managed brand personalities are quick and easy ways to tell the story to consumers and attach it to their brand.

But it’s a big decision, the investment is considerable – David Beckham’s contract is worth US$160 mn plus profit sharing – you place all your eggs in one celebrity basket and you can’t necessarily control the way that personality behaves in the vagaries of real life – ask Nike.

Brand Nicole Kidman

But get it right and you will engage fast and furiously. This is an essential facet to know for those who want to understand the importance of celebrity endorsement. Locally celebrities have recently been enrolled in the battle for the skies. Etihad have selected Nicole Kidman for her position as glamorous, elegant, refined, and exclusive (maybe even aloof), expressing the elite premium positioning of their airline.

Brand Jennifer AnnistonEmirates in turn selected Jennifer Anniston. Still glamorous but more fun, practical and approachable someone you could probably talk to on board. Both seem appropriate with Aniston probably having more room to deepen the relationship. So far ‘hit numbers’ seem to strongly favour Anniston too.

However you choose to build and activate your brand so much of its effectiveness will come down to how well you know your brand – understanding, defining and creating a relevant and authentic brand personality and then bringing it to life consistently, sustainably and contextually. Which celebrity would you choose to be your brand’s champion?