Using a well known person to promote a product, service or raise awareness is clearly not a new concept, but choosing who would be best to represent your brand can be a daunting task in 2019. Businesses have used celebrity endorsements to represent their products since the 1760s, when the King of England first promoted a company commonly known today as Wedgewood. Athletes and movie stars dominated these endorsements for years. They were such an important part of marketing that by the 1980’s products were actually designed specifically for them, such as Nike designing shoes for Michael Jordan. Thirty years later social media influencers entered the advertising arena and the face of marketing was radically changed. Both celebrities and influencers have the potential to reach a large number of potential consumers, so let’s compare the two to help you determine which is best for your brand.
Traditional celebrities have been the primary choice for years due to their recognition. People automatically feel a connection with them, because they are viewed on television while sitting in their homes, heard on the radios in their cars and seen gracing the cover of magazines at the grocery store. Although these celebrities have a wide reaching audience they also come at a premium price and a higher risk financially. Since celebrities are essentially a brand unto themselves, it is necessary to select a person whose public image best matches the intended brand image. When a brand alliance is formed such as PepsiCo’s partnership with Beyonce in 2012, then both brands reap the benefits. Unfortunately this association can also negatively impact a business when the celebrity receives negative publicity due to their actions or those of another brand that they represent. In 2016, CNN referred to Maria Sharapova as the most marketable female athlete in the world, but when she announced that she had failed a drug test meldonium, a heart medicine that had just been added to the banned list, her consumer trust and credibility dropped overnight. her contracts with Nike and Porsche were put on hold, while Tag Heuer decided not to renew its contract.
Social media influencers came onto the marketing scene in 2010, when Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube became household names. These platforms allowed people to develop online relationships, that were soon changing the way people selected products and services. These new online friends soon became the authentic voices, that consumers turned to when searching for a product or service. Some companies such as American Apparel and Macy’s are using employees as influencers to represent their brand. While many brands are contracting established influencers. Macy’s began the search for their next influencer in June 2018 with a campaign called Macy’s Style Crew. By keeping this only open to employees, they felt that they’d find influencers with a deeper connection to their brand. According to Tongal, the company overseeing Macy’s initiative, one participant produced a total of $15,000 in handbag sales in one week. The influencer may not have the as wide of a recognition as a celebrity, but they have right target audience for what they’re representing. They also generally have a higher number of interactions with the consumer due to the relationship being of a more person nature where the influencer is simply sharing things they love. The influencer isn’t a big a gamble financially as a traditional celebrity, but finding the right influencer for your business can be more challenging. Working with a well established agency that represents influencers will definitely promote the best results.
Ultimately the decision of whether to invest a celebrity endorsement or influencer marketing strategy will largely depend upon a company’s business plans and goals. A celebrity can yield incredible results, but a more specifically targeted social approach can offer a good return on investments with out a large financial gamble. The lines between celebrities and social influencers are quickly merging to form a unified model. Aerie, owned by American Eagle, began a social media campaign called Aerie Real, where actual customers upload images of themselves wearing Aerie’s clothing. This company was a forerunner in promoting the “body positive” image by not retouching photos used in their ads, so that they have an authentic quality that is relatable to all women of different shapes and sizes. Aerie was valued at $200 million in 2017 and ended 2018 valued at $500 million. This campaigns profits are a great example of how social media can be used to become more in tune your market.
Social influencers today are not just increasing profits, but some are changing society for the better. Fitness influencers such as Jen Selter have made a healthy lifestyle and banging body available for the mainstream public, not just athletes as once believed. She was selected by Forever Sports as their first ever female fitness advocate and featured on their June 2015 cover. She goes well beyond sharing work out secrets, when she discusses cyber bullying, self confidence and being comfortable in your own skin. Jen gives her followers the confidence and guidance they need to achieve their optimal health. Other popular fitness influencers that are improving peoples’ well being worldwide are Michelle Lewin, Amanda Cerne, as well as, Karena and Katrina, who are the founders of Tone it Up Girls. Tone It Up brings a fresh approach to fitness, with their fun, energetic, girlfriend-to-girlfriend method of fit. These women are inspiring others to live the life of their dreams every day.
Whether you decide to select a Celebrity or Influencer, it’s extremely important that you do extensive research and vetting or better yet hire an experienced marketing company to do so for you, because selecting the right representative for your brand is the key to success.
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