Friday, March 28, 2008

Does Your Business Need to See Stars?!

Welcome to the first edition of Red Carpet Marketing's News You Can Use from

the Goddess of Marketing: Mary Ann McQueen Butcher

When celebrities appear in a company's advertisements, it can create a very LOUD buzz. Typically, this happens for two reasons: We are unconsciously drawn to the familiar. So, right off the bat, the presence of a celebrity gives many customers an extra reason to stop and pay attention to the ad. Second is the widespread belief that a celebrity appearance in an ad represents a true endorsement - that the celebrity uses the product and believes it to be better than its competitors.

Sometimes the usage of celebrity endorsements can carry the same weight for customers as a recommendation from a friend.

While the illusion is that the celebrity is endorsing the vendor's product or service, the job of celebrity spokesperson is strictly business. So my opinion is, IF you can afford the celebrity's fee, you have as good an opportunity of attracting the celebrity's services as any other company. And many celebrities cost much less than one would expect. A well-known person might work on a television commercial for $10,000 or less per day. To the celebrity, $10,000 per day is very nice income. To the business owner, who then runs that ad on television 100 times, the talent fee-per-appearance is really quite small.

Celebrity spokespersons are usually represented by agents who serve as brokers. If you're interested in contracting the services of a celebrity spokesperson, go ahead and contact one of the many agents here AND in Los Angeles. Describe your business goals, and then ask for recommendations on available celebrities who best fit your product or promotion.

The key to making celebrities work for a company is finding someone who will be credible for your product. You NEED a good fit for your specific demographic. For example, let’s say you are marketing an energy drink; even if the celebrity comes to you dirt cheap, if your target demo is Men 18-34, you won’t want to pick someone over 65 that doesn’t look healthy. Just doesn’t make sense. The closer the fit, the greater the perceived endorsement value.

Secondly, if you are receiving outside funding from angel investors, you’d better be able to justify spending your ROI on a celebrity spokesperson. Think of all the money that was spent during the Dot Com boom in the ‘90s. Much of it was wasted on stars hawking companies that had poorly made products or services. Invest in YOU and YOUR COMPANY before you spend on a star.

I can give you a personal example. When I was consulting for Westfield Shoppingtowns (they are a global shopping mall/real estate investment trust), I hired Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. She was a perfect fit for the company because we portrayed her as both royalty (by marriage) and a working mom. Once the integrated marketing campaign hit, there was A LOT of buzz. During the period when the Duchess was the center of our campaign, shopper foot traffic went up 18% and sales went up 7%. Oh and by the way, Sarah Ferguson wasn’t really that expensive. The moral to the story: Inexpensive talent, good fit and a spike in sales. That is measurable success.

Next week: MEDIA BUYING: The Right Mix for Your Company

Red Carpet Marketing, LLC is a full service media, marketing, advertising, public relations and promotional services company. It targets small to medium sized companies in need of marketing expertise; specifically the companies that cannot afford a marketing department, a publicist or an agency. COMING SOON: