Four Overlooked Cost Factors Which Kill Celebrity Marketing Deals

How to land the celebrity you want within your budget.

Your brand needs to increase sales, market share or awareness. You’re launching a new brand or perhaps trying to quickly build credibility and fame. Using a celebrity will help accomplish one or more of these objectives.

Celebrities have become an integral part in the American advertising industry selling everything from financial services to fast food to foreign coffees. Who has not seen Michael Jordan selling Hanes or Jamie Lee Curtis endorsing Activia? While some brand executives have successfully used celebrities, others have been burned paying too much, negotiating too long and receiving too little.

Here are four factors that are not usually apparent to even the most savvy brand executives, yet still significantly influence the costs of celebrities:

1. What are the key channels?

What media outlets will this endorsement include? Once upon a time, Hollywood actors/actresses didn’t care what the mix is while sports celebrities stars cared. Today, with the pressure in music and entertainment to promote albums, concert tours, movie or television projects, what is the right media mix combination to keep fees in line? What matters most to celebrities & agents? Surprisingly, some celebrities may want extra exposure and not charge extra to for additional outlets.

In-depth knowledge of each celebrity’s preference is what keeps your brand from vastly overpaying and not receiving the desired value from an endorser.

2. Other Endorsements

Another factor which greatly influences price is other endorsements or promotions a celebrity has at the time of your inquiry. Recently, I negotiated a much lower price for the overall endorsement contract of a high-profile athlete with a national brand because I suggested the client purchase a substantial amount of the athlete’s book. The client bought the books and both sides were happy with the results.

In another instance, I suggested to a major retailer they donate a portion of the endorsement money to the celebrity’s favorite charity. This suggestion enabled them to make a lower than market value offer look much more attractive. The celebrity agreed.

3. Boosting Visibility

With today’s professional contracts and shoe/clothing deals averaging in the millions of dollars, many athletes view the endorsement arena as a place to boost their visibility, rather than their bottom line. Smart agents realize the leverage he or she has with teams by having their client’s visibility enhanced through endorsements. Hollywood celebrities adopted a similar view leveraging a larger number of brand endorsement deals to differentiate themselves. Ten years ago, actors saw themselves as artists who for the most part, felt endorsements were beneath them and their acting craft. Times have changed with Hollywood celebrities now getting the great majority of brand endorsement deals.

In a recent negotiation with a Cy Young Award winner, the agent confessed that,

“It is not about the dollars we can make on this deal. We are looking at getting (him) out there in front of corporate America for future deals.”

Jeff Sperbeck, a respected agent who represents current and retired NFL stars such as Denver Broncos Super Bowl quarterback and now the team’s Executive Vice President, John Elway, states:

“We look for the most well-rounded deals for each athlete, that means the potential to grow with the endorsing company, compensation and where this opportunity fits with this person’s image.”

4. Time Commitment

Today’s celebrities work or train year-round and free time is extremely limited. Therefore, the less time devoted to an endorsement the better. B level and C level celebrities who help meet your goals cost less and generally have more time to execute services.

Knowing the best ways to minimize time yet maximize results is crucial.  Bundling services efficiently at the commercial shoot and media days can make the entire opportunity more attractive & and successful for the brand.

For example:

  • Having the script well before the shoot
  • Preparing wardrobe or giving information on dress code in advance
  • Utilizing a stand-in before the celebrity arrives to take care of lighting, placement, etc.
  • Having a conference call to discuss general ideas, mood, etc. prior to setting expectations

These tips may seem obvious, but many advertisers forget or do not follow these simple plans.

photo credit: kenteegardin via photopin cc


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