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
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
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
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
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
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
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). Wix.com – Rhett & Link
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
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
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
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.