What Apple’s Viral HomePod Ad with FKA Twigs Tells Us About Celebrity Marketing

VladJanuary (flickr)

With the viral success of Apple’s ad for its newest product line, what can brands learn to boost the effectiveness of their celebrity marketing campaigns?

In June of 2017, Apple announced their intention to enter the wireless speaker/AI assistant market with their new HomePod line. It marked a significant new step away from the brand’s identity of traditional hardware, but an acknowledgment of the changing pace of the device marketplace.

However, consumers were already well aware that Apple was lagging behind Amazon and Google in this tech sector, so how did Apple’s marketing strategy combat this?

For nearly two decades, Apple’s brand identity has been centered on music. After all, they invented iTunes which dominated the early digital music market and made the iPod a global phenomenon.

They have stressed that the HomePod will be a “music-first” device and followed up that brand message with an ad/short film directed by Spike Jonze and featuring FKA Twigs that quickly gained viral status.

Here’s what this viral spot tells us about celebrity marketing:

1). Incorporating Celebrities’ Talents Can Elevate a Brand’s Message

Any consumer who watched this short film will immediately remember the old iPod campaigns with silhouette dancers and vibrant color pallets, which we must assume was the intention.

Clearly Apple wanted to continue but modernize their core message. For this they used an Oscar winning director, Spike Jonze and a world-renowned dancer/musician, FKA Twigs.

Many outlets praised the ad simply for the credentials of those involved, which gave consumers an early perception of quality of the spot and the brand.

Celebrities in their natural environments not only produce better quality marketing tools, but it streamlines the planning process by encouraging innovation from the artists.

2). Implementing Cause and Artistic License is a Sure-Fire Way to Success

While maintaining the brand message, creative license was taken to incorporate concepts of dealing with depression. During the film, Twigs uses the music that Apple can provide to overcome her feelings of repetition and despare from her career.

It is important for marketers not to take this element to far however. There is often a fine line between partnering or discussing a cause and taking advantage of it to sell products. Consumers are attentive and do not enjoy faux-cause marketing strategies.

Regardless, there is little doubt that the creative element of the ad has led to its viral success. The colorful set has also driven extra content about the ad on social media. The best ads rarely need pinpoint cooperation to show their value. Seeing the passion of everyone involved to discuss their product proves that the correct creative priorities can reinforce a brand’s message.

3). The Ad Directing Trend is Here to Stay

Add this spot to the growing list of short films that have been produced by Hollywood regulars for various brands. Walmart enlisted the talents of Dee Rees (Mudbound), Melissa McCarthy and Nancy Meyers for an Oscars campaign. Apple is no stranger to using this method having first done a similar project with Ridley Scott in 1984 when launching the Macintosh computer.

This method will only continue to prove its power of innovation in the advertising industry. Brands with short films have received very positive responses and it is a great way to partner with celebrity influencers to make use of their talents.

photo credit: VladJanuary via (flickr)


How to Properly Track the Results of Your Celebrity Marketing Campaign

Tony Babel (giphy)

To maximize ROI, the statistics of a celebrity influencer campaign analyze the impact and aid future learning.

Celebrity influencer campaigns are fast becoming one of the pillars of marketing in many industries and almost all of these happen in the digital sphere. Whether social media activations, streaming events or website ads, the potential for making unique impressions is massive.

Traditional media relied on sources like Nielsen ratings or simply sales figures to tell them how impactful their ad campaign was, but times have changed.

Marketers today need to understand the importance of measuring your campaign’s success, not just through the use of social media analytics. A combination of data streams will provide a much better proof of your methods and can help refine or reinforce a brand’s message.

Here are three ways marketers can properly track results of their campaigns.

1). Treat Social Media Platforms as your Friend, but not your Spouse

At present, many brands receive data for their campaigns from sources that focus on the Big 3 platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These form the backbone of analysis for marketers, but it should not be the only source you rely on.

Diversity of data sources is never a bad thing.

2). Track Real Time Data of Competitors 

Now I’m not advocating you create a corporate espionage division, but public data that details your competitor’s activities can be invaluable to strategizing your brand’s approach to a campaign.

Programs like Rival IQ and quintly are great sources for data.

Say for example your beverage brand wants to break into a community of consumers who love a certain activity. If a competitor already attempted reaching consumers with an influencer and met severe resistance to corporate influence, you can tailor your message or perhaps avoid the space and learn from others.

3). Search Engines are a Treasure Trove

I’m not sure where search engines rank on the all-time best inventions list, but their impact is pervasive. According to SmartInsights.com, a total of 1.2 trillion searches are made each year. To put that into perspective, that’s 164 searches for every person on Earth.

With this much activity, marketers can take advantage of data available from search engines to show how campaigns increased online traffic relating to their products.

Programs like Clicky, Moz, and Google Analytics are the premier sources for this data.

You don’t need a complex analytics degree to properly track the success of your celebrity influencer campaign, you just need to know where to start. If you want to take the gut feeling out of your marketing decisions, quantify choices and increase confidence, look to these programs to increase your ROI.

gif credit: Tony Babel via (giphy)

Why Voice-Over Partnerships are Still Important to Celebrity Marketing

Tommy Lopez (pexels)How consumer trends are shaping voice-overs and how your brand can benefit.

Partnerships don’t need an appearance on camera to be effective. Voice work existed long before television marketing in the form of the radio, which may make the practice seem dated. However, current consumer data continues to prove voice-overs are an effective marketing tool.

Previously I outlined “Five Reasons to Add Celebrity Voice-Overs,” but here I want to revisit voice-overs in celebrity marketing and its relevance in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Here are three reasons voice-overs are still valuable to celebrity marketers.

1). The Emotional Connection

If you are a regular reader you understand my fondness for personalization in digital marketing. This concept should extend to the traditional voice-over medium as well.

A recently released survey of marketing professionals compiled by Voices.com found the most desired element in a voice-over partnership was maximizing the emotional connection to consumers.

Now that sounds quite vague and it’s supposed to be. The magic of celebrity marketing firms like Burns is an ability to identify the best candidate to achieve emotional connection.

Even if the celebrity isn’t a recognizable A-lister, the right voice can elevate a brand’s connection to consumers.

2). The Potential for Broader Demographic Reach

Voice-over marketing does not have to be restricted to a commercial setting. With the evolving world of advertising moving towards digital monopoly, marketers can preempt the trend by incorporating voice-overs into their digital marketing.

As voice actress Joan Baker puts it, “It seems more and more [that] technology leads to the need for more voices to humanize the tech experience. It’s the nature of communication to want to spread information to a wider and wider range of people, and people overwhelmingly prefer to be spoken to by other people.”

Another finding by the Voices.com study backs up Baker’s point. At 93%, a large majority of consumers would rather hear a natural voice over an artificial one.

This gives marketers a great opportunity to apply voice-overs to their digital marketing strategies to personalize customer experiences and better shape an online identity.

3). The Ability to Re-brand

Voice-overs are also a great way to kick off a re-branding process. Many brands including Allstate, Progressive, Coors and Weight-Watchers had massive success establishing their voice.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardees’ is a great example. They have taken a lot of flack over the years for their controversial advertising campaigns that objectify women, but recently shifted strategy with a new partnership. Using Matthew McConaughey in a voice-over, they re-established their brand with a recognizable voice who immediately associated the brand with southern comforts.

They may not be the best quality or most viral ads on the planet, but sometimes they don’t need to be. Using voice-overs in celebrity marketing is still a highly effective means of emotionally connecting with customers and building the brand. The data proves it.

photo credit: Tommy Lopez via (pexels)

Young Olympians Can Teach Celebrity Marketers About Generation Z

Elena Vasileva (flickr)Now that the Olympic stars of the future have arrived, how can they improve marketers’ understanding of the next generation?

The Olympic Games are a unique event in human history, for they bring the world together through the pursuit of excellence and celebration of the human spirit.

These athletes have unprecedented reach and been used for decades in marketing campaigns to represent brands.

However, the Winter Games have been taken over by a new wave of young superstars like Chloe Kim, Red Gerard, Maame Biney, Vincent Zhou, and Nathan Chen. Not surprisingly, the successes of these athletes have almost been overshadowed by their personalities.

Here are two major lessons that these new Olympians can teach celebrity marketers.

The Myth of “Digital Obsession”

We have all heard the critics of Millennials and Gen Z lamenting that the social fabric is being ruined by rampant use of technology. These cliches have become rather toxic.

If there is anything that these athletes are proving, it is that this myth needs to die quickly. Celebrity marketers must meet Gen Z on their level, creating experiences and content that appeal to them.

Chloe Kim dominated the half pipe on her way to a near perfect score, gold medal, and national headlines. But many outlets reported instead that the tweeted her cravings while waiting for her next run.

That is unheard of in Olympic sport. Instead of folding under pressure, she tweeted and showed her composure, then went out and became the youngest gold medal winner in the history of the event.

It would be naive to suggest there was no danger associated with rampant obsession with technology, but celebrity marketers who understand that technology usage by younger generations is not to be feared will be in position to reap the rewards as it becomes embraced as the new normal.

Influencer Personality Doesn’t Have an Age Requirement

A common perception held by some marketing professionals is partnerships with younger influencers are much more volatile and not worth the risk. Young Olympians have already begun to buck this trend.

Simply by qualifying, athletes like Red Gerard, Maame Biney, and Chloe Kim were approached by top brands for sponsorship opportunities and they have been rewarded by their successes.

Generation Z should not be defined by traditional standards of maturity and the need to reach a certain threshold to be an effective influencer. These athletes are still teenagers by any measure.

However, it reinforces the emerging doctrine that influencers should be recruited for the experience they give consumers rather than relying on old endorsement standards.

A 17-year-old who wins a gold medal in a sport they live for, who willing tweets they are hungry for ice cream or chips to calm nerves can be just as impactful with consumers as a more expensive A-lister with less connection to the product.

Partnering with an Olympic athlete can be tricky since they aren’t in the public eye for long periods of time, but young athletes like those mentioned above are the future. Smart marketers and brand agents recognize, even if you do not partner directly with them, that the way these stars interact with the market should be adopted to succeed.

photo credit: Elena Vasileva via (flickr)


What Celebrity Marketing Can Take from Subscription Box Brands

pixabay (pexels)

In the same way that subscription boxes customize consumer experiences, celebrity marketing must similarly evolve to meet more needs.

Stereotypes of celebrity marketing took some time to change since the advent of social media. The days of the traditional celebrity holding up a product for a camera seem to be long over, as consumers demand new types of interactions with marketing content.

As Jazmin Garcia de Leon of Brandingmag describes it, consumers “are more creative, ambitious, and informed than ever. They are skeptical and savvy about branding and marketing, and they own technology that even enables them to be the producers, promoters, marketers, and event merchants of their own media and product.”

Subscription box brands are a great example of this new consumer mentality. They serve both as a service and a marketing tool, as the possibilities for any combination of licensed products is endless.

Since this form of service receives such glowing praise from consumers and marketers alike, naturally it is important to adopt their best practices. Here are three things that celebrity marketers can learn from subscription box brands.

1. Customization is Key

Consumers want what they want, this is nothing new, but the new breed of consumers require the chance to cater a product they love to their individual needs. The trick for a marketer is maintaining the balance of customizability and relevance to the marketplace as a whole.

Box brands like Birchbox are known for their underlying service for providing five make-up products monthly at affordable prices. Yet they also give subscribers the chance to tailor their box around a specific need for the month, centered around different categories.

This level of customization is not brand breaking or even market restricting, but it is a cost-effective way of using the product to sell the service.

2. Keep Things Exciting but Never Predictable

Often it is difficult to keep entire audiences enthusiastic about the message you are communicating. After all, there are only so many ways to promote a product with a celebrity, right? Not so fast. Subscription boxes create hype around their products by blending the product with what Lucy Whitehouse of Cosmetics Design-Europe calls the “OMG I Got a Present” Theory.

Establishing your brand as one to surprise their consumers by connecting directly is a great way to to do this. Say for example a consumer orders your product online, why not have your celebrity influencer deliver it to them personally or have them add in their personal touch to the order?

3. Focus on Building Communities

Box brands are best known for their ability to create fandoms or communities around their products. Several of them boast high engagement from consumers who look forward to the monthly surprise and share their hauls with the world.

Monthly boxes also have the chance to accomplish CSR goals as well. A pair of women in Naperville, Illinois created their own subscription boxes stuffed with inspiration items for girls to build self-worth in the surrounding community, instantly sparking a media sensation.

The sooner marketers can utilize influencers to enact these lessons, the better for their product in the long run.

The culmination of personalized marketing is the formation of a community following and subscription boxes teach marketers that goals never have to be pursued on-by-one, but can be combined into one product that the right celebrity influencer can deliver for consumers.

photo credit: pixabay via (pexels)

How Pop-Up Shops Can Supplement Celebrity Marketing

glorife (pixabay)

Building buzz with quick events can significantly increase the effectiveness of traditional marketing partnerships.

Over the past few years, brands have decided to experiment with their budgets on newer ways to reach consumers than the traditional media channels. The concept of pop-up shops has inspired a new wave of experimental marketing that has produced promising trends.

A pop-up shop is a temporary branded store or location that can serve any function that the marketer desires. Some choose to simply hand out a product, others decide to use it to give customers one-of-a-kind experiences.

For example, in August of 2017 Amazon set up a pop-up shop in the heart of London named the “Home of Black Friday,” which showcased massive deals and featured brand themed decor. It generated a lot of press from international outlets and helped expand Amazon’s overseas presence in Europe.

Pop-up marketing is so valuable because it has no limits. Brands from tourism to fashion can utilize the medium to create buzz. It is a great way to accomplish guerrilla marketing tactics without the limitations of long term real estate.

More importantly, this type of activation is the perfect pairing for a celebrity influencer partnership. Through the combination of promotion on social media and in person, a pop-up shop can reach vast new audiences and personalize the customer’s experience to build rapport.

In my time at Burns Entertainment, we have overseen several deals that included celebrities and pop-up shops.

The launch of LG QuadWash in 2017 had a pop-up shop and an appearance from Rachel Zoe and her husband Rod Berman. Rather than simply gaining exposure from a launch with corporate executives, the press got to document an influencer couple showing how valuable the product can be to its intended audience.

Another shop we organized was the St. Ives Mixing Bar in New York city’s Soho neighborhood. The shop gave customers the opportunity to customize skin care product to their individual needs and also the chance to meet Lili Reinhart from the hit show Riverdale.

Pop-up marketing is a great way to diversify your brand’s message and interact with your customer base. It can either be your go-to tactic or a last-minute option to solve a problem. Pairing them with celebrity influencers provides a low-cost alternative to a syndicated commercial partnership and can accomplish goals quickly. The possibilities are endless with pop-up shops and they will only continue to evolve over the coming years.

photo credit: glorife via (pixabay)

Using Landmarks to Personalize Celebrity Marketing

Gabriel Peter (pexels)

Integrating real-world activations into a celebrity marketing campaign can greatly increase engagement, publicity, and exposure.

Sometimes social media marketing can become kind of stale.

Trends come and go and endorsements remain the same still photo related content. So rather than follow the same formula, why not step outside for inspiration?

Beyond the fleeting trends of social media and meme culture there is an underlying truth that exists, users react the most to content they can relate to. Brands that have understood this phenomenon have become the faces of innovation in the industry and have gained exposure for their efforts.

Consumers desire marketing that relates directly to their daily lives, not the traditional glamorous posts that put celebrities out of their reach. What better way is there to fill this desire than to evolve your social media strategies to include the real world outside the studio?

By producing content that includes features like landmarks, scavenger hunts, or pop up shops, marketers can shape their brand’s relatability with consumers who come to associate the product with their daily commutes, favorite locations, or go-to restaurant. This more in-depth level of recognition not only increases engagement on social platforms, but binds consumers to the brand’s message.

Shaquille O’Neal is a great example of this strategy. He was the king of “scavenger hunt” Twitter culture a few years back. He became famous for his tweets that hinted at the location of a giveaway item or where he would appear at a certain point in the day. It sent fans and media into a frenzy that would draw large crowds at each location.

LG is another example of a company who integrated landmarks and icons into their marketing strategy. In 2012, LG began marketing their new line of smartphones by putting free samples in secret locations and tweeting clues on their specialized page. The events greatly increased fan engagement, became a trending topic online and were included in the local media in New York and London for days afterwards.

The purpose of celebrity marketing is to utilize influencers to become an extension of your brand’s personality and reach their fan demographics. Changing up your social media content with immersion can do wonders for a stagnating brand message and even encourage more celebrities to contribute to the newfound culture of consumer relatability.

photo credit: Gabriel Peter via pexels.com