Star Spangled Brands: Partnering with Olympians for Celebrity Marketing Campaigns

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As symbols of national pride, Olympians hold special status with citizens, consumers and provide great partnership opportunity for brands.

Since the start of the Olympic Games, Olympic athletes have been seen as the standard of perfection. Olympians are elite athletes and medalists are revered by people across the globe.

During their time in the Olympic Games Team USA athletes become the face of our nation. They embody national pride and possess qualities and attributes all Americans strive to hold.

The huge amount of respect and honor they have earned and the role they play in forming and representing national character makes them an optimal partnership opportunity for brands.

Sportswear and athletic equipment giant Nike aims to position its brand with top notch gear that enables any person to reach greatness. To bolster this image of an elite brand of exceptional quality, they have partnered with many Olympic athletes who have earned the perception of greatness.

Nike is currently partnered with 45 Olympic athletes from around the globe. They have major partnerships with some of the bigger name medal winners, such as tennis player Serena Williams. Nike’s alliance with Williams is far reaching, encompassing video ads, billboards and her own product collection. Williams is one of the pieces in Nike’s ‘Unlimited’ campaign that launched around the Rio 2016 Olympics.

These top notch athletes have helped Nike gain and retain their image of the world-class sporting goods brand.

While Olympians may be an obvious fit for sports brands, they have also been used in unrelated industries.

Hershey’s Chocolate entered a deal with the now most-decorated American gymnast, Simone Biles, as a part of their larger ‘Hello From Home’ campaign. The brand aired an emotional spot with Biles prior to the Rio 2016 Games.

Featuring Biles opening chocolate bars with letters from her family and friends, the ad brings to mind love and family. Hershey’s perfectly aligned their desired image of a caring and family-oriented brand with the message in the ad. They used Biles’ respected position with consumers and tied her to their product to achieve a positive public perception.

Not all brand partnerships with Olympic athletes occur in the few months immediately surrounding the Olympics. Olympians can advance a brand’s image long before the next Games begin.

The UK-based grocery store brand Aldi paired with two brothers and triathletes to create an integrated campaign for summer 2017. It uses the competitiveness associated with being one of the top athletes in the world to tie its brand name to competitively affordable pricing.

Aldi used the medal-winning Brownlee brothers to demonstrate that their brand is superior to the opponents, just as the brothers had proven of themselves in the Olympics.

photo credit: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport via Wikimedia Commons

What Brands Need to Know about FTC Regulations for Influencer and Celebrity Marketing Campaigns on Instagram

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Brands must educate themselves on how to use celebrity marketing in the most effective way that conforms to the rules set forth by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Even though the FTC has cracked down on celebrities and influencers for not explicitly labeling endorsed posts, there is still a huge lack of transparency regarding paid relationships.

In April 2017, The FTC issued a notice reiterating the rules for signposting paid ads on social media. They sent over 90 letters directly to celebrities, athletes and other influencers noting their improperly labeled posts. Even so, a study revealed that during May 2017, 32 of the top 50 celebrities posted some sort of sponsored content and 93% of those posts weren’t signposted correctly.

With changes underway, it’s essential for brands to know what the FTC requires, what social channels are doing to lessen the problem and what brands should do to avoid issues and successfully execute a social influencer campaign.

What the FTC Requires

The FTC Guidelines state any “material connection” between an influencer and an advertiser must be made clear. Meaning if there is any kind of relationship that could affect the way the consumers view the credibility of the post, it must be exposed.

The FTC also instructs hashtags must be easily interpretable. Unclear hashtags like #sp (meant to indicate sponsored post) don’t have a clear meaning to all consumers, causing the material connection to go unnoticed.

Hashtags must also be near the top of the post. On Instagram, text indicating the post is sponsored must be before the “more” button. The info needs to be visible without having to look further to find it.

What Social Channels are Doing

In an attempt to restore clarity and structure to sponsored posts, Instagram has launched a “paid partnership” feature. This allows for influencers to indicate the sponsorship above the post, under their name, in the space where a location is often put.

This will give influencers and advertisers a clear-cut way to disclose paid relationships, leaving ambiguity out of it. The #ad or #sponsored labels and their variations being used now leave more room for uncertainty in some cases.

While Instagram isn’t enforcing use of the feature at this time, it is a step towards stricter regulation and allows brands an easy way to avoid any questioning by the FTC.

What Brands Can Do

It’s best for brands to be diligent and stay up to date on the latest news and requirements from the FTC regarding influencer marketing and not just rely on its agencies. It’s necessary to be aware of the regulations to ensure a brand doesn’t end up damaging its image.

One reason why social media influencer campaigns are loved by brands is because of the genuine and natural way consumers are exposed to brands or products. Some brands fear clearly labeled posts could diminish that effect.

The key to getting around this issue is finding celebrity and influencer partners that make sense. If a partnership is logical, then it will seem authentic and genuine even if clearly labeled as a paid endorsement.

photo credit: Heidi Klum via Instagram

How to Advertise to Gen-Z with Influencer and Celebrity Marketing

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Reaching Generation Z takes a particular combination of medium, platform and influencer.

As a younger generation starts to come of age, marketers are trying to find the best ways to target them. Teens and early 20 year olds, like all generations, have their own channels and people of influence. Marketing professionals need to take a focused and unique approach.

With this generation spanning a pivotal age for brand marketing efforts, it’s important to know the optimal way to earn attention and interest.

Marketers must closely consider the way that Gen-Z consumes media. Video is increasingly a preferred way for news, information and other messages. Gen-Z is growing up in a video-driven consumption environment and familiar with and receptive to receiving content in this way. Something visually appealing is necessary to grab Gen-Z’s attention in a media cluttered environment.

The non-profit brand Truth, which aims to end teen smoking, did an innovative video and social campaign using YouTube influencers. The brand had ten influencers co-create and share a song and music video on their social channels. Truth was able to reach Gen-Z with people they listen to in places they go to listen.

It’s vital to recognize where Gen-Z gets media from. Platforms that provide captivating images and video that Gen-Z likes include Instagram and Snapchat. This generation is drawn to mediums that have visual communication at the core of their function.

Artist, storyteller, and Shorty Awards Nominee for Snapchatter of the Year, Mike Platco has been used by many brands for “Snapchat Takeovers.” T-Mobile, Freeform (ABC Family), and Major League Soccer have all relied on him to increase their following.

Gen-Z has grown up surrounded by ads and has become desensitized to many of them. Influencers work great especially with Gen-Z for this reason. It’s a more genuine and authentic approach that catches their attention. They have their own influencer celebrities they look up to that resonate with their generation that can be used by brands to get noticed.

One of these people is Kendall Jenner. She has captivated Gen-Z with her fascinating lifestyle and is followed by millions. Multiple brands have used her to access the hard to reach Gen-Z. In order to compete within the competitive sportswear industry, Adidas has shifted their focus to creating fashionable lifestyle active wear. They’ve used Kendall Jenner to launch them into this space. Her Brand Ambassadorship was announced on her Instagram page–one of the Platforms where Gen-Z flocks to most.

Marketers can easily make an impact on Gen-Z, so long as they consider the how, where and who regarding their media consumption.

photo credit: Abhijit Bhaduri via flickr

Matching an Influencer or Celebrity Marketing Campaign with the Right Social Channel

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Campaigns reach maximum effectiveness when placed on the social channel that best fits a brand’s goal.

Brands of all sizes and industries have stepped up their use of influencer marketing because of its ability to reach consumers in a genuine and valuable way. Research done by Linqia.com shows that 86% percent of marketers used the tactic in 2016.

Undoubtedly successful, influencer campaigns placed with the right social channel allow brands to optimize their spend. The decision of which social channel to use depends on the broad goal of the campaign according to the points below.

 Audience

Depending on which consumer the campaign targets, one social channel may be better than another. With the extent social networks are integrating into daily lives, people of a variety of characteristics and lifestyles are active on any given channel. However, some channels are still better than others for reaching a certain demographic. Some channels, like Instagram and Snapchat, are used more heavily among millennials while others, like Facebook, are more frequently used by an older audience.

Stride gum used DJ Khaled to promote their Mad Intense Gum. They had DJ Khaled take over the brand’s Snapchat account for two days as a part of the campaign. By using Snapchat, they were able to reach the audience they intended.

Reach

If the goal is impressions and getting the brand seen by as many people as possible, the campaign is best placed on a channel conducive to that purpose. This will depend on the chosen influencer’s following on each channel. In general, Facebook and Instagram currently allow for the largest reach considering that they have the highest amount of active users.

With 121 million followers, Selena Gomez is one of the most followed accounts on Instagram. The fashion company Coach brought her on as a spokesperson in December 2016. She has posted multiple pictures with their products on her account, allowing Coach to reach millions of consumers.

 Engagement

Engagement is a more powerful and intimate tool that focuses on getting consumers to take action. While reach can mean that they just saw an ad, engagement means they acknowledged it and interacted with it; usually by liking or commenting. When matching an influencer campaign with a social channel, choose the social channel where the influencer has the most dedicated and captivated following. Overall, Facebook and Instagram are good for engagement. Snapchat isn’t the best since the content isn’t likable or shareable.

Clinique for Men was able to generate a large level of engagement by partnering with influencers on Instagram. By using ten influencers across different demographics, the brand was able to achieve 3.8 times higher engagement than on their own account. Their products showed up on accounts including professional surfer and photographer Mikey DeTemple’s with 26,600 followers. A bigger influencer they partnered with was the lifestyle blogger and traveler Justin Livingston, with 246,000 followers.

photo credit: stux via Pixabay

 

Viral Celebrity Marketing Campaigns Turn Brands into Cultural Phenomena

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Great celebrity marketing partnerships coupled with creative executions can go viral, launching brands into the cultural spotlight.

Pairing a powerful celebrity with an innovative concept provides the opportunity for brands to catapult themselves into the forefront of culture. In an increasingly digital world, the climate is perfect for brands to match celebrities with clever content and go viral, reaching millions of people through shares and retweets. Campaigns go viral because of the celebrities they feature. Consumers are drawn to interesting, funny, inspiring and captivating video ads that include people that they know and can relate to. Here are three elements of viral celebrity marketing campaigns.

 Entertainment Value

Making a campaign entertaining by putting a celebrity in an interesting situation is what makes ads authentic and enjoyable. It allows the brand to integrate with the content rather than being a tack on. This is what blends the brand with the celebrity and message fluidly, without making it seem too promotional.

Nike’s series of ads with Kevin Hart achieved great popularity. The ads were able to entertain consumers and hold their interest because they told an interesting story. Being released right at the New Year when people set goals to work out, the brand had perfect timing using an adored celebrity to position their brand and product at the center of that cultural moment.

 Cost Effective

Producing video ads can be costly, but placing ads at the right time and place is often extremely expensive. When a celebrity marketing campaign is positioned in the right environment for success the ad can go viral, garnering millions of views simply from initial placement on the brand’s social channels.

Apple music’s partnership with Drake and Taylor Swift is a great example of how taking a loved celebrity, a relatable situation and combining it with a funny execution makes a brand the center of social media. These ads had millions of views within hours of their release. The virality of the ads allowed a larger reach for a much lower cost than an alternative medium.

 Leverage From Social Media

Content recommended by friends has extra pull for consumers. They are more likely to trust, buy into, and like messages shared by friends than those placed by brands. Viral videos passed along through social channels from one user to the next have more credibility. Brands benefit when their celebrity marketing campaigns are those being shared.

KitKat created the perfect circumstance to become a cultural phenomenon with their campaign featuring Chance the Rapper. By partnering with a well known celebrity across their target demographic and creating an interesting ad, they reached a vast amount of people in a meaningful way.

By making an authentically interesting ad based around a celebrity, a brand creates an opportunity for themselves to become a cultural icon.

photo credit: Joe The Goat Farmer via Flickr

How to Avoid and Respond to Celebrity Marketing Efforts Gone Wrong

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Take precautions before partnering with celebrities and react appropriately if an issue arises to limit being associated with controversy.

Every element of marketing brings a level of risk. Celebrities are no different. They have passionate and engaged fans, large followings, and high credibility—all of which they can transfer onto brands. However, when a celebrity has a mishap, the public’s perception of the celebrity can instantly change, and when that happens, the associated brand also takes a hit to its reputation.

Here are a few steps companies can take to greatly reduce the risk or minimize the consequences to their brand.

Conduct Research and Recognize Red Flags

It’s important to take a deep dive beforehand to find out as much as possible about the celebrity’s past. Understanding the celebrity’s character will allow for better insight into how they may behave. Brands must look for any signs indicating that the celebrity could be on the verge of controversial behavior. While these things can be hard to foresee, conducting thorough research will greatly reduce chances.

Predict the Good and the Bad

When looking at a potential celebrity partner, it’s critical for brands to evaluate areas for opportunity but also areas of potential concern. By anticipating what may happen, brands give themselves a good way to determine whether they think a partnership is right for them by comparing the conceivable good outcomes with the imaginable negative outcomes.

Decide Whether to Continue the Partnership

Depending on the severity of the celebrity’s mistake, waiting out the initial public outrage might be better in the long run. The brand must also keep their brand identity at the core of the decision making process. If the celebrity is mentioned negatively in the media but didn’t do anything that contradicts what the brand believes, then it may be appropriate to continue the relationship. Another key aspect is to take cues from the public. Seeing how the public reacts will further give brands direction on how to respond.

Squatty Potty decided to end their partnership with Kathy Griffin after she posted a picture of herself holding a replica of a bloody Trump head. The CEO issued a statement saying that what Griffin had done was completely inappropriate and not consistent with the company’s values. They took a strong approach in making sure that the public knew their standpoint regarding the issue.

Strategize How to Fix the Damage Moving Forward

Planning future celebrity endorsement campaigns, implementing PR or ad campaigns, and issuing statements to the public are all things that should be considered.

Photo credit: RedCarpetReport via Flickr

Brands Incorporate Pets into Influencer Campaigns and Celebrity Marketing

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In today’s digital era, influencer marketing is more popular than ever, and brands are starting to take innovative approaches.

Social media famous pets are beginning to integrate with brands, and in a cluttered media landscape, it can elevate companies above the rest. People create individual personalities and perspectives for their pets on social channels. Certain animals have huge followings and big brands are starting to look toward these pets to endorse products.

There are two of types of celebrity pets—the pets of famous people and pets that become famous themselves without a celebrity owner. One example of the former is Katy Perry’s Teacup Poodle, Nugget, who just landed a major campaign deal with Citi’s Double Cash credit card. An example of the latter is Nala, a cat with 3.4 million Instagram followers who has partnered with Friskies. Regardless of the type of celebrity pet, here are three reasons they can be great for brands.

Appeal

Positive feelings like comfort, love, and nostalgia are all strongly associated with animals. Ads that play to peoples’ emotions are very effective, and pets are a great way to use emotion to capture and maintain audience attention.

Celebrity endorsements can be made stronger by including the celebrity’s pet. This is an easy way for celebrities to be more relatable, for both those familiar and unfamiliar with the celebrity.

Content

Celebrity pet brand ambassadors generate authentic and unique content.  Pets can add a lot of character to a message.  A key to celebrity pet marketing is ensuring that it makes sense and works within the context. The execution has to be deliberate and meaningful in order for the campaign to be effective.

Brands whose products aren’t directly related to animals can still gain a lot from using them in campaigns, but they need to be clever and creative to deliver their message. A brand that did this well was Mercedes in their partnership with the Instagram famous Loki the Wolfdog, who has over 1.5 million followers. The ad got everything right, cleverly using a celebrity pet, and doing it in a creative way that made sense for the brand.

Engagement

Pets rule social media and are in the top ten most shared types of content on the web. People like to comment, share and tag their friends in posts with animals. Brands reach bigger social audiences by finding the right pet with a large social following and a creative campaign that people will be drawn to.

Overall, people love pets, and they are a safe choice with no controversy.  Many brands have benefited by partnering with celebrity pets, and more brands should consider doing the same.

photo credit: Rollan Budi via Flickr