The Monthly Report Card: March

A new monthly series that will showcase the best practices of the industry and provide insight into how to best use celebrities or influencers to your brand’s advantage.

With a rather busy month of celebrity marketing news in March behind us, a new series is beginning on the Brand Agent Blog. Each month, I will grade the performance and creative aspects of the major celebrity/influencer partnerships that were announced and offer my take on how effective they were…or were not.

Here are some good, and not so good, examples of celebrity marketing in action:

(1). Isle of Dogs Movie – Bill Murray Dog Poem (SXSW)


Grade: B+

Following the budding trend of colorful brand activations at the SXSW convention, Fox Searchlight used this poem as a clever extension of director Wes Anderson’s style by blending spoken word poetry (about a dog of course…) with a Bach accompaniment. Added bonus points for its cost effectiveness as Murray was already attending the event for the press junket.


(2). Tommy Hilfiger – Lewis Hamilton


Grade: B

This is a good move for Hilfiger. Hamilton is Formula 1’s international superstar and perennial title contender; the perfect way for them to continue their longstanding association with the sport. Would be an A if not for Hamilton’s lack of reach into the US market.


(3). McDonald’s – W (International Women’s Day)


Grade: A+

Not celebrity marketing per se, but Chief Diversity Officer Wendy Lewis deserves recognition for this one-off. What at first looked like a vandalism prank garnered more attention when it was discovered as a deliberate attempt to honor the women of the company. A very simple, but powerful and authentic statement in support of a noble cause. Well done.


(4). Apple – FKA Twigs & Spike Jonze Short Film


Grade: B

As I mentioned in my blog post on the spot, this short-film is a great example of the innovative side of celebrity marketing. It is stunning to watch, but it is missing one major element, the product! A HomePod commercial should feature the product for more than three seconds when the music turns on. If you blinked wrong, you might not have even realized it was an Apple commercial!


(5). Burger King – Conor McGregor


Grade: D

This just does not make much sense. It seems Burger King is trying to associate their brand with luxury and excellence, but it just came off as cheesy and unnecessary. Not a great fit between the two. Honestly, this does not seem the best response to falling behind in the Twitter wars with Wendy’s.


(6). Sonic – Ellie Kemper and Jane Krakowski


Grade: C

This was clearly an attempt to shake up the rather stale lineup of comedians Grosz and Jagodowski (the two guys in a car), but they could not help but repeat the same formula. Attempting a shake-up but leaving your spokesmen in the spot seems like some sort of bad fan service. They deserve credit for landing a recognizable comedic duo, but a missed opportunity overall.


(7). Barbie – Role Models (International Women’s Day)

Mattel Barbie Role Models

Grade: A

Mattel has been facing backlash for years over the uniformity of their Barbie products, and this new Role Models line is proving they are stepping up to the challenge and embracing diversity. The lineup in particular is genius with figures like Chloe Kim, Patty Jenkins, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Amelia Earhart and Ashley Graham. Representation is key, and Mattel hit the nail on the head with this effort that will inspire the next generation of female leaders in any field.


(8). Dos Equis – Ditching “The Most Interesting Man in the World”


Grade: D

Mixed feelings about this one. While the brand did see a decline ever since Jonathan Goldsmith retired his character and was replaced, you’d be hard pressed to find a consumer who doesn’t associate the brand with the famous campaign. It is understandable to want to go in a different direction but erasing the character from your channels is a step too far, major points off.


(9). Zumba – Meghan Trainor

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Grade: B

It is not secret that Megan Trainor has tailored her music to be rallying cries for females around the world. This is a great way to continue that identity by pairing with another icon in Zumba. While it is rather down the middle in terms of ambition (and why its not an A), it is a solid example of how the right celebrity can be a perfect fit with a brand’s values.


(10). Tourism Australia – Chris Hemsworth


Grade: A

Kudos for keeping your foot on the gas Tourism Australia. This entry refers more to their ingenious Dundee: The Son of a Legend Returns spoof they pulled off during Super Bowl LII, but the agency is continuing their partnership with Hemsworth by releasing a series of digital videos. Not only did they pull off a perfect marketing hoax, but they incorporated nearly every A-lister associated with the Land Down Under with perfect casting for the campaign. Top marks all around.


What are your thoughts on these partnerships? I’d love to hear your opinions on Twitter at @bobwillia.


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