Celebrities promoting products and services has become a lucrative way to build brand awareness and credibility. When brands establishing a relationship and connection to popular names in entertainment, sports, fashion, and other verticals, there is the potential to boost sales drastically, especially when the consumer believes the product or service is actually used by the celebrity him or herself.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Companies around the world have used athletes and celebrities to promote their brands since the late 1930s, when baseball legend Babe Ruth endorsed a soft drink brand called Red Rock Cola. Brands will pay top dollar to sign celebrities with the expectation of a return on their investments. Marketwatch shows us that even a simple announcement from a brand signing a celebrity or athlete can cause the stock prices of the company to rise (ever so slightly, but still impressive nonetheless). The research also states that sales will likely increase 4% (on average) after signing a celebrity.
Finding the Right Match
The key for brands is choosing the right celebrity to endorse your products. While companies may seek out personalities with a particular characteristic or attractiveness, such as physical appearance, athleticism, intellectual capabilities, or overall lifestyle, the most important trait is the trustworthiness and credibility for the brand. Of course, the most effective celebrity endorsements are those who seem like they would be an authentic customer of the product or service that they promote, and enough so that fans and consumers genuinely believe this.
Brands will also tap into the social media communities of these celebrities. At times, this provides a much more transparent approach to the partnership, and further links the individual to the business. This practice makes sense because it’s easy to classify a TV commercial or billboard as a staged production, but utilizing his or her actual social channels creates a unique and personal allure to fans and followers.
The fact that social media provides us unprecedented insights into the lives of celebrities means it also has the power to make these endorsements seem all the more believable – or not, depending on the brand and celebrity duo. The downside, of course, is the common slip-up on social media, which more often than not crashes the endorsement contract to the ground. Overall, these relationships are built on trust, and businesses research possible celebrities as much as possible before making it official.
Pro Athletes Boosting Brands
Michael Jordan may not play basketball anymore, but he still has a huge fan base. In 1984, Nike launched what later became the most successful athlete endorsement campaign in history; the Nike Jordan shoe brand. In 2009, statistics showed that Jordan continued to boost Nike’s bottom line with the Jordan Brand taking 75% of the basketball shoe market, and a 10.8% share of the overall shoe market in the United States. As mentioned, Jordan’s celebrity continues to impact the world where brands must pay more than $ 10 million dollars just to use his imagery, of course, after receiving his permission first.
Companies can only hope that they are able to link up with athletes who have such a huge impact on their brands, whether it’s directly tied together, or slightly off-brand. Just this month PokerStars embarked on their largest marketing campaign yet, using two sports heroes who are also great fans and players of poker. The brand clearly understands the significance of social media as evidenced by pre-launching on Facebook a new television spot starring soccer superstars, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr.
Maria Sharapova, a female professional tennis player, is another athlete that Nike partners with to promote their brand. Her story is interesting as she built her illustrious tennis career, and also built a large following across social. With 1.8 million followers on Twitter, over 15 million fans on Facebook, and 164,000 on Instagram, she’s one of the most sought-after athletes for endorsements.
These brands see social media as the most effective way to engage with people, especially the younger generation, since it is the method by which younger demographics tend to interact with each other, and everything around them. Friends, family, news, brands, athletes, and just about everything in between each and every day.
… And then there’s the Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. He just really like Skittles.