The Monthly Report Card: May

Showcasing the best practices of the industry and providing insight into how to best use celebrities or influencers to your brand’s advantage.


(1). Victoria’s Secret – The Angels

1 Victoria Secret

Grade: D

The Cotton Collection commercial by Victoria’s Secret (VS) was like any other VS commercial. With the setting on a sunny day, a beach background and the word ‘cool’ popping up on the screen creates a light and airy feeling for viewers. However, the VS Angels are not like the majority of females and with their reported 10-14% monthly sales decline since 2017 their marketing strategy could use a new direction to match the realism of their consumers.

(2). Atom Tickets – Anna Faris

2 anna faris

Grade: A

With their first-ever national brand campaign, Atom Tickets nailed this one. Using Anna Faris to show the features of this new app, Director Peter Berg made this national campaign simple yet memorable. Faris uses some of the most iconic movie quotes throughout the commercial while showing what the app does to make the movie experience that much better. Faris is a good representation for the consumer because of her relatable and loveable persona that can reach a large demographic of movie goers.

(3). T-Mobile – Bryce Harper

3 tmobile

Grade: C+

T-Mobile partnered with Bryce Harper during their Hats Off campaign. This campaign donated one dollar to Team Rubicon every time someone posts #HatsOff4Heroes. The commercial with Bryce Harper targeted baseball loving veterans and families. T-Mobile’s campaign was centered around Memorial Day and touched many Americans, however, the commercial stated that T-Mobile was giving 50% off to Military Families. There was nothing about the hashtag to help veterans, making it more about their company than the campaign.

(4). Pepsi – Dierks Bentley

4 pepsi

Grade: B-

Who doesn’t love free things? ‘This is the Pepsi that Gets You Stuff’ is part of the Pepsi Generations Campaign. When drinking Pepsi, there is a chance to win Pepsi Retro Gear. This commercial was full of summer. Then, obnoxious screaming girls finding out they could win Dierks Bentley tickets ruins the commercial. Bentley’s calm demeanor attempts to balance out the girls, but viewers are left remembering the horrific screaming.

(5). McDonald’s – Gabrielle Union/Charles Barkley/John Goodman

5 mcdonalds

Grade: A-

McDonald’s changed up how food commercials are looked at now. In a series of commercials, Gabrielle Union, Charles Barkley and John Goodman all took action in the ‘Speechless’ campaign. For this campaign, McDonald’s produced two types of commercials. One is the celebrity silently eating while subconsciously talking to themselves about the deliciousness of the Quarter Pounder. The second produced commercial has them commentating for the customer eating the Quarter Pounder because they are ‘Speechless’. The ‘Speechless’ campaign proves that nothing can describe the feeling and taste of the burger.

(6). Gatorade – Bryce Harper & Michael Lorenzen

6 gatorade

Grade: A

Gatorade has always shown what hard work and dedication looks like with the world’s best athletes. This is no different with their current campaign featuring a ‘friendly’ competition between rivals Bryce Harper and Michael Lorenzen. In the commercial, it states that Gatorade has been “studied, tested, proven for the world’s best athletes,” while showing how well Gatorade works for Lorenzen and Harper. Gatorade proved its success for the world’s best athletes and made a successful attempt to persuade customers.

(7). Corona Extra – Ryan Johnson

7 corona

Grade: A

Corona did it right in their summer can campaign. It leaves viewers wanting to go to the beach on a hot day and enjoy a Corona Extra. Having a beach guy yell “Summer is here” puts you in a mood to go out and enjoy the Summer. Jimmy Cliff’s song, You Can Get it if You Really Want brings together the visuals and the feeling of summer with a Corona in hand.

(8). The Jordan Brand – Maya Moore

8 jordan brand

Grade: A

The Maya Moore commercial begins with Moore putting on her line of basketball shoes. Then cuts to footage of when she was a child, in college and finally in the WNBA winning a championship. Moore signed an endorsement deal in 2011 with the Jordan Brand and recently released her own line of shoes. What makes this campaign so iconic is that her number in the WNBA, like Michael Jordan, is 23. Jordan’s symbolic picture of his wingspan with the infamous William Blake’s quote “No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings” is replicated at the end of the commercial by Moore doing the same pose while a female, re-purposed version of William Blake’s quote “No bird soars too high, if she soars with her own wings” is being sung in the background making the new Jordan commercial “WINGS” that much more iconic.

(9). Visa – Zlatan Ibrahimović

9 visa

Grade: B+

As the Official Sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Visa partnered with professional soccer player, Zlatan Ibrahimović. Visa’s campaign was about FOMO (fear of missing out). Zlatan was a seamless fit for this because he said, “A World Cup without me is not worth watching.” While the commercial showcased his arrogance on how he could have played if he wanted; the underlying message was the simplicity Visa brings to fans so they do not miss out on the action. Visa will roll out multiple other commercials during the course of the World Cup to show the ease of contactless payment through Zlatan’s adventure in Russia. Zlatan will also have exclusive behind-the-scenes access during the tournament that fans can join-in on from home. With Zlatan’s soccer background and VISA’s quick payment methods, this campaign simply showcases how effortless using Visa is at sporting events.

(10). Mountain Dew Kickstart – Kevin Hart

10 mountain dew

Grade: A-

Mountain Dew partnered with comedian Kevin Hart for a yearlong campaign. Mountain Dew Kickstart’s three different commercials capture what goes on in the mind of comedian Hart before a performance. His electrifying energy embodies what the customers would get from the refreshing boost of Mountain Dew Kickstart. Mountain Dew selected an excellent celebrity for this campaign because of his comedic side and energy. His commercials will leave a memorable mark for customers.

photo credits: YouTube


Celebrity Marketing Royal Wedding Edition


With a monumental event that may only happen once in a life-time, how does a brand tap into the media frenzy to win big on the big day?

Brands can hope they become part of the Meghan Markle Effect. With influential style and millions of women looking up to Meghan, her net value to brands is $212.1 million.

Oroton, a luxury leather accessories and goods brand was saved by the ‘Princess Effect’. Orton was seeing a decline of sales until Markle was photographed wearing their purse. Oroton’s Avalon bag is now on backorder, likely saving the struggling company.

If a brand wants to be proactive instead of reactive, here are examples of brands from different industries who brought awareness surrounding the Royal Wedding.

47.2 million viewers watched the Royal Wedding. With 6.9 million interactions on Twitter and Facebook, numerous brands took part in posting about the wedding via social media.

HBO’s The Royal Wedding Live with Cord and Tish!

When the partnership with Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon was announced, their Funny or Die characters, Cord Hosenbeck and Tish Cattigan made guest appearances on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. After the show, social buzz circulated as to what they would do for their London broadcast. Having the celebrities continue posting on their social media about the event increased anticipation.

On the day of the wedding, with their sense of humor and electrifying personalities, Ferrell and Shannon’s characters were excellent choices to endorse HBO.

On HBO’s YouTube channel, Cord and Tish received 378,000 views in three days. The video announcing The Royal Wedding Live with Cord & Tish received 296,000 views, having the most consecutive views for HBO’s channel. A majority of HBO’s prior videos range from 2,000 to 40,000 views.

Shannon even announced on her Instagram that Tish and Cord would host the Royal Wedding on HBO. Leading up to the event, Shannon received over 75,000 likes/172,000 views from various sneak peek videos and pictures on Instagram.

The RITAS’ Queen NeNe, The Royal Rita

Another successful endorsement was Bud Light’s Lime-A-Rita partnership with The Real Housewives of Atlanta, NeNe Leaks. NeNe announced via Twitter May 18th that she would be their ‘Royal Rita’, taking over the RITAS twitter. NeNe sent out a poll on the RITAS twitter receiving over 15,000 votes about why people were watching the Royal Wedding.

During the wedding and events following, NeNe tweeted about the wedding, responded to followers and endorsed RITAS, like posting royal guests’ wardrobes that matched different Rita flavors.

Nene, a sassy celebrity, was a perfect endorser because of her bold and unfiltered personality and large social media followership.

Numerous brands took part in promoting the royal wedding but opted out of using a celebrity endorsement. Kellogg’s Café, New York, had a decadent breakfast and viewing party, with their Instagram only receiving a combined 3,000 likes for their promotion.

Velveeta Shells & Cheese had a campaign, “Royally Treat Yourself”. The first 800 people who registered online won a gold box of Crown & Cheese. And KFC created a Gold Chicken Royal Wedding Edition Bucket for a select handful to win.

Since these campaigns were limited in their promotion, would they have sold out faster if a celebrity was promoting the product?

photo credit: AM> via (flickr)

How Blockchain Integration will Affect Celebrity Marketing

Ormeus Coin (flickr)

Understanding this new technological tool is key to modernizing business practices and streamlining future celebrity marketing campaigns.

At this point, it is a matter of when not if blockchain fully integrates into the business world. Several companies are utilizing specialized blockchain software across several sectors, with many more to follow.

Blockchain is a repurposed function of Bitcoin algorithms that create an incorruptible network of transaction ledgers. Unlike databases in the past, blockchain does not have a central server that stores the information, allowing for increased security and broader access to the network of users. It was originally used as an approval measure for the sale of Bitcoins but can be extended to work for any transaction between two or more parties.

What effects will this have for celebrity marketers?

Marketers will have even More Control – Similar to the advent of social media, the integration of blockchain gives marketers almost full awareness of how their message is released. Because blockchain is an updating algorithm distributed to every participant, there is much less possibility outside factors can hijack the content. As Jared Dicker of Adweek puts it, “Blockchain-registered publications provide uncontestable records about a publication’s attribution and origins. It’s immutable. It’s the single source of truth.” The problem of accidental association like the YouTube “Ad-pocalypse” will be a thing of the past.

Single Service Agencies will become Extinct – Adapt or die is a rather cliché phrase, but it rings true with blockchain integration. One of its features is that it cuts out the need for a middle man as communication becomes instant and traceable. Without the diversification of services in an agency it will soon become unprofitable to be a single service. Not only will these firms need to compete with one-stop shop agencies but they will also have to deal with circumvention of their services by marketers who can accomplish the same task by analyzing blockchain data and incorporating it into their brand strategies. Consulting will not cease to exist, but it will be much more difficult for firms to sustain themselves unless they diversify their revenue streams.

Full Transparency will be the Cost of Business – It is no secret that transparency has become a major issue in the world of marketing and advertising. Some experts believe that blockchain integration will solve these problems by giving brands a publicly accessible ledger of business transactions that can prove any brand’s legitimacy. To be fair, the software can service private accounts, but its inability to be forged will ensure it cannot be used for corrupt purposes. With blockchain, consumers will demand that brands be authentic in their interactions and will have the tools to guarantee those demands.

Campaign Tracking will become Seamless – The ability for marketers to access a ledger of transactions and activations on a network will provide endless opportunities to track the success of their campaigns. The difficulty in corrupting blockchain data will provide marketers with a large and authentic collection of data to be used for future campaigns. Rather than relying on social media brands to collect relevant data, firms large and small can trust their own data streams for accurate consumer measurement.

photo credit: Ormeus Coin via (flickr)

Influencer Marketing: Countering the Consistent Threat of Fake Followers

it's me neosiam (pexels)

Four easy steps you can utilize to choose the right influencer for your brand and maximize ROI.

It is hard to argue with the fact that marketing and advertising are going through hard times. Headlines with crises like the YouTube “Ad-pocalypse,” crackdowns from the FTC and the foolish actions of several online celebrities.

Several studies by different organizations found that several micro-level influencers could easily buy fake followers to boost their accounts and become noticed by brands. Social media brands are changing guidelines to combat this phenomenon, but it never hurts to be cautious.

So how do marketers beat this trend to insulate their brand integrity? Here are four steps your organization should take into consideration before partnering with an influencer:

  1. Evaluate Popularity/Cultural Relevance

Influencers don’t always have to be measured by the followers on their social media accounts. Taking a deep dive into other media appearances is always beneficial. If they are known for their fashion choices, did a local blog or publication feature them in an article or photo shoot?

Most influencers do not limit themselves to one social media account. If they truly wish to build a following they will expand into other mediums like blogs, vlogging, or merchandise lines. Any other sources of contact information are also great indicators that an influencer is legitimate.

Unless a marketer is targeting a micro-demographic, they will not usually need to employ influencers with under ten-thousand followers, but still makes an exhaustive research step important in the process.

  1. Invest in Analytical Tools

In response to the “Fake Follower Scandal,” several Search Engine Optimization programs emerged to help brand combat this threat. These programs use several criteria to verify the legitimacy of an influencer’s audience.

Programs like these can save a company a lot of time and money as well as the bad press that can come from a fraudulent partnership gone awry. More importantly though is the ROI implication. Marketers should always find the best methods available to protect their investments and quantify their choices.

Examples of these Analytical Tools are FollowerCheck, Upfluence, SocialDraft, Manage Flitter and Social Audit Pro.

  1. Measure the Growth Rate

How long has the influencer had their account? How often/how much do they post? How many engagements do they receive per post? Are they ever featured on the respective sites front pages? These are all good questions for marketers to ask when vetting an influencer.

An influencer who has posted less than one-hundred posts but has tens of thousands of followers is either a social media phobic celebrity or a fake influencer. Real followings take months if not years to develop.

Tools listed above have the capability to measure the growth rate of accounts to better assist marketers in their search. And to that end, large spikes are not a good thing. Growth graphs with straight lines are an indicator of shady activity.

  1. Tally the Engagement Rates

Do comments from the influencer’s community seem cookie cutter or uninspiring? If so, then you are probably dealing with bots. Follower buying sites are not exactly known for their creative writing skills and have a big problem with copy/paste.

If on the other hand, the community responds frequently with questions, inspiring comments, or even gets into arguments it is a good indicator of a healthy follower community.

photo credit: it’s me neosiam via (pexels)

The Monthly Report Card: April

Showcasing the best practices of the industry and providing feedback into how to best use celebrities or influencers to your brand’s advantage.

(1). BodyArmor – James Harden/Kristaps Porzingis/Mike Trout/Skylar Diggins


Grade A+

One of the most talked about advertisements of the year so far was this pot-shot of a commercial directed by Kobe Bryant. Not only do they include world class athletes in their pitch, but they made their intentions clear by claiming that their competitor Gatorade should step aside. Consumers in the age of social media love to see intense competition between brands and this helps establish one. They also established credibility by having Bryant direct, which will help BodyArmor disrupt the energy drink market. This is a great example of matching the right celebrities to brand values and executing a relevant strategy.


(2). Under Armour – Will Finds a Way


Grade: B+

This Under Armour ad features athletes like Zoe Zhang, Dennis Smith Jr, Natasha Hastings, and Teddy Riner. What makes it so special though is the underdog mentality established by the creative direction. CEO Kevin Plank has always held the opinion that Under Armour is the underdog of the sporting goods space, and a consistent brand message is always a good thing. Dwayne Johnson’s father figure persona is a great fit for this type of campaign, and he will continue to inspire the next generation of athletes and consumers.


(3). Solo – Denny’s


Grade: B+

For a Denny’s ad, this was pleasantly surprising. There is a fine line between incorporating a movie-tie in well and not well at all (as will be discussed later), but the care that went into this spot is admirable. Rather than flaunt a new pancake with Chewbacca’s face on it, Denny’s decided to market directly to kids and feature an old-fashioned trading card promotion that matched the spots story. The sketch itself was filmed on the actual set of the movie and featured help from the movie’s production crew. Overall this was a well purposed and executed tie-in that drew clear line between the product and movie, maintained those roles, and leveraged the wonders of childhood.


(4). Foot Locker – LGP Qua


Grade: A-

Foot Locker has to be commended for their ingenuity in this spot. Rather than partner with a well-known rapper like Kanye with Adidas or Big Sean with Puma, they sponsored and produced the first music video for the up and coming Philadelphia rapper LGP Qua. It is much different from most commercials in that is an actual music video, and the song was made completely independent from the brand, but the shoes and other features are planned tie-ins. The beneficial relationship between the two here is telling of how celebrity marketing should work. It is not predatory, not out of left field, but a well thought out collaboration and an artistic endeavor more than an effort to sell shoes. Maintaining authenticity to the customer is imperative, and now many will think of Foot Locker when buying shoes because they support the rap community.


(5). Hostelworld – Mariah Carey


Grade: B-

A rather confusing choice for most people when first viewing, but the randomness of the sketch and the pairing was the point. Comedy always makes for the best advertisements and it reinforces the brand message wonderfully. However well the first half of the ad worked, he second half fell on its face. The joke was rather flimsy to begin with but dragging out the sketch into the dance party scene is guaranteed to lose interest from consumers. While this was a good example of how creative strategy can boost the advantage of a celebrity partnership, it is also an example of perhaps poor negotiating that locked them into producing a longer commercial.


(6). Nike – Welcome Back Tiger


Grade: A

After a long hiatus from golf’s most beloved tournament, Tiger Woods made his return to the Masters in 2018. Nike took the opportunity to revisit the glory days of one of the greatest golfers of all time and its own personal journey with him. They took some flak for sticking with him after his misdeeds came to light, but now they can congratulate him on his recovery and redemption. The ad itself is a great nostalgia trip for any golf fan and a touching gesture between two parties. Feel-good advertisements always score well with consumers and this spot is no exception.


(7). – Rhett & Link


Grade: B+

While this partnership has been going on for a while, this is taking advantage of the newly released spot from April to discuss the partnership as a whole. Wix has been known for disrupting the GoDaddys and Squarespaces of the tech industry with their inexpensive services and user-friendly features. Now they are pushing hard for grassroots consumer loyalty with a massive campaign featuring several prominent YouTubers and internet personalities like Rhett & Link, iJustine, comedian James Veitch, Cord Hosenbeck (a bald Will Ferrell) and Karlie Kloss. The first pair is particularly genius for their relevance to the space. Their show, Good Mythical Morning is one of the top series on YouTube, lending to the spots credibility and reach. At times the sketches can get a bit ridiculous which takes off points, bu this is a match made in heaven.


(8). SodaStream – Hafthor Bjornsson


Grade: C

A holdover from the influx of April Fool’s Pranks that brands attempted earlier in the month. This one catches attention for the comedic value of the partnership. While the prank itself was quite weak and did not make much sense, it was sure to make consumers laugh when seeing the “Strongest Man on Earth” in a tiny tub. This was a good choice by SodaStream, but the creative side of the spot was lacking. There were also many consumers that would recognize Hafthor from his role on Game of Thrones.


(9). Nike – Shoe Therapy/Lena Waithe


Grade: B+

In contrast to the Tiger Woods spot above, Nike went for a more comedic angle to this campaign that features Lena Waithe from Masters of None and The Chi. The premise relaunches a concept from the 90’s that revolves around various celebrity/athlete’s “addiction” to their shoes that is discouraged by the “therapist” Waithe. Overall it is a lighthearted way to promote your brand and poke fun at the subculture of sneaker heads to encourage bonding. Partnering with Lena Waithe, who is a rising star in the entertainment world, was a solid choice and she plays the character convincingly.


(10). Avengers: Infinity War / GEICO, Quicken Loans, Infiniti


Grade: D

While licensed character tie-ins can certainly be beneficial to celebrity marketing, these spots were poorly matched and executed. As explained in the Denny’s entry above, there has to be clear lines between the product and license as well as a proper explanation to the consumer why the partnership is taking place. When consumers need car insurance, will they be persuaded to go with GEICO because the gecko wants to be an Avenger? Of course not. They will be persuaded by lower prices and better service features that Progressive and Allstate commercials provide. Same goes for Quicken Loans. A woman walking through an Avengers battle scene being saved by Iron Man has absolutely nothing to do with a home mortgage. Infiniti’s spot can be forgiven in that it didn’t go over the top, and to be honest they couldn’t pass up on a movie called “Infinity War.” Regardless, brands should not license movie characters for the sake of looking cool, there needs to be a proper connection in place or consumers will just tune out.

Why Celebrity Marketing Should Embrace the Streaming Revolution

FirmBee (pixabay)

For a more effective digital marketing campaign, place ads on streaming platforms to get Millennial and Gen Z appeal.

In an evolving marketing industry, the effectiveness of certain advertising platforms is a a fiercely debated topic. The jury is still out on radio and TV, but digital marketing is taking over. However, video and music streaming services have quickly risen to dominate entertainment consumption by younger demographics, with platforms like Spotify, Twitch, Hulu, and Netflix seeing the most success.

For example, Spotify’s Initial Public Offering became one of the most anticipated and successful financial events of the decade. “Spotify’s current [market] cap of $26.4 billion makes it more valuable than CBS, Twitter, Snap, Sprint, Dish Network and Viacom. Spotify is the No. 1 global music streaming provider with an estimated 42% worldwide market share in 2016.” 

That 42% market share has given Spotify a total of 157 million active users from 65 countries. Research shoes that of those 157 million, 72% are Millennials or younger.

Twitch is a similarly successful case study and while not publicly traded is owned by Amazon. As mentioned in a previous blog on the topic, Twitch services 15 million daily users with millions of hours watched per year. Their audience is almost entirely millennials (over 70%) with younger generations catching up.

It almost seems cliche to imply that Netflix is a tech giant, so let us focus on the numbers. The platform now services almost 120 million people worldwide and reached new peaks by adding 8 million subscribers in the last fiscal quarter of 2017. Netflix currently does not host ads on their platform, but industry experts predict that it will eventually be integrated to support ads. Major advertisers are putting on pressure to make this happen and there is little doubt that Netflix can continue to pass on the large sum of estimated profits by doing so.

What makes these platforms so valuable for celebrity marketing is the potential for authenticity and fluidity in marketing execution. Many musicians, gamers and celebrities are already features on the platforms, so it makes sense to utilize them where their fan base is strongest.

A small but passionate audience can be more effective than a larger one. Streaming platforms give direct access to audiences with impressions nearly every second. It does not make sense to gamble all your budget on digital marketing with streaming platforms, but there is not better way to reach coveted younger demographics and take advantage of future trends in entertainment.

photo credit: FirmBee via (pixabay)


Five Keys to In-House Celebrity & Influencer Marketing

Damon Duncan (flickr) .jpg

There are significant benefits around using an in-house, trusted team to identify, negotiate, contract and service endorsement deals for celebrities and influencers.

Despite beneficial relationships that marketing agencies and corporate producers build every day, there is also a power struggle dictated by market trends and the effectiveness of campaigns. I have laid out before the benefits of partnering with a specialist agency. Some brands are moving their work in-house.

Managers face tough decisions, and some may consider moving operations in-house to cut costs and gain greater control over content. There is a lot to consider.

For reference, in this post the term celebrity also includes influencers.

Successful celebrity marketing takes a significant operation and constant collaboration. It might not be possible to satisfy necessary requirements with current resources, and an expansion of staff may be in order to maximize effectiveness.

When deciding who will lead and execute celebrity identification and contracting, consider five key areas:

1. Experience

Does your team have years of celebrity experience? In my agency, it takes 10-20 deals before an account service person with the most sophisticated training can independently lead a best-in-class celebrity campaign. Even then, pitfalls put deals at risk from lack of experience.

2. Networking

How deep is the team’s network with agents? Managers? Publicists? Many deals take weeks or months too long or fall apart because there are not strong relationships with Hollywood, sports and entertainment management teams. Credibility, trust and rapport take time to build and maintain.

3. Brainstorming

What process does the team have to move beyond white boarding and brainstorming? This is only the FIRST step in a process of considering all celebrity options. How can one hire a game changing celebrity if they are not identified up front? My agency created a nine-step process to identify celebrities who are the perfect fit, within budget and willing to participate in the campaign.

4. Speed

A celebrity deal takes on average two to four weeks to complete if executed well. Celebrity deals can be shorter or longer depending on how knowledgeable the team is and how quickly the agent who represents the celebrity in question works. Can your team devote hours over a number of weeks or more to execute? Should the team take its eye off core work to execute a deal from start to finish? Is it the best use of time? It may or may not be depending upon what is going on with the brand at the time.

5. Time

Multiple team members may be working on this. Do they have time to do their “day” job plus work on this and deliver the work that is expected? After 48 years plus executing successful celebrity campaigns and making every mistake in the book, we use a 25-step process which leads away from pitfalls and moves a brand through a successful, turn-key celebrity endorsement.

photo credit: Damon Duncan via (flickr)