Celebrity Marketing and Negotiations: Phase Four


Superior project management comes from a very simple and overlooked strategy.

Upon completion of the contract and negotiations in Phase Three, a single point of contact in the day-to-day execution and management of the contract is crucial. This will ensure the celebrity partner and his/her affiliated management keeps the details of the campaign at the forefront. By having someone who is committed to efficiency and your brand remaining on the campaign until its completion, you can be sure your objectives from Phase One are successful.

Although it seems as though a marketer’s job ends once the ink has dried on the contract, in many ways, finalizing the contract is only the beginning. All relevant points of the contract must be monitored closely to ensure all requirements are being met throughout the campaign. For example, it is important to maintain the set timeline and be sure the celebrity partner attends all service days that were decided upon in the contract. In doing so, your brand can be sure the contract is executed properly.

Managing and overseeing the various elements of the campaign is very important. These elements include the logistics of the campaign, such as schedules, service days, travel and “glam,” such as hair, makeup, wardrobe, etc. It also includes approvals, such as program assets and press-related content and outlets. Once again, overseeing these elements of the campaign will ensure that everything runs smoothly and all aspects of the contract are executed correctly for your brand.

After the shoot, agencies and brands have a tendency to take a deep breath, relax for a moment and move on to the next project. Going back to putting out fires elsewhere causes campaigns to stall or fail because no one is working on approvals and logistics ahead of time.

Finally, if the campaign goes well and your brand feels the celebrity’s participation in the campaign had the desired impact, discussions can begin for the next step. If your brand decides to continue the relationship with the chosen celebrity partner, we can then move on to renewing the contract or executing other options for the partnership. Otherwise, we can restart the process with a whole new set of celebrity recommendations for your brand.

After completion of all four phases of the celebrity marketing and negotiation process, your brand should have a successful celebrity marketing campaign. Through pre-planning, research, negotiations and execution, structure and stability is created in an otherwise unpredictable and chaotic process, thus creating successful results.

photo credit: Thebluediamondgallery.com


Celebrity Marketing: Adding An Athlete Can Improve Your Brand’s Bottom Line

Stephen Curry for Degree

Stephen Curry for Degree

Three interesting facts and tips about athletes and endorsements.

Choosing the right one

Choosing an athlete for your brand is one of the more difficult parts of celebrity marketing.  Brands look for different characteristics in athletes both on and off the field.  On the field characteristics generally speak for themselves; anything to do with skill level, performance, potential ability, or style of play all help brands make a decision on which athlete they want to use for their campaign.  As a result many brands look to sign players with the potential to become the next superstar.  For example, Steph Curry signed a variety of deals with multiple brands as he started to emerge as an NBA talent. Then, in 2015, Curry won the MVP and the NBA Finals, making him infinitely more valuable to brands.  The brands who signed him prior to his breakout season benefited immensely from this.

Another important aspect to consider when signing athletes to deals is their off the field qualities.  Things like their personality or charisma, how well they interact with fans, their looks, and their background are all important.  A good example is David Beckham, who ticks off all the good measurables from that list. Combined with the fact that he is a world class player it is no wonder Beckham is such a sought after name in the advertising industry.

Finally, it is important to consider how the athlete is viewed by the targeted audience. Ensuring that the sport is popular in the campaign’s region and making sure the demographic in question likes the team the athlete plays for are both important things to consider when choosing an athlete.

Adds 4% to sales

Athletes can bring plenty to the table in terms of success. A study by Harvard Business School concluded that athletes bring in up to 4% more in sales than other celebrities.  This number may sound relatively small but it translates to gains of over 10 million dollars annually.  In addition, this study also concluded that an athlete’s performance over time goes hand in hand with sales.  For example, if a player wins a championship, the amount they bring in for the exact same promotion or ad rises.

How much the athletes make

A contributing factor in signing an athlete to a brand is the endorsement money.  This is one area that athletes are especially keen on.  This is because endorsements tend to make athletes much more money than their typical salary.  According to a study by Forbes, LeBron James makes 53 million dollars from endorsements, compared to only 19 million from his salary and winnings.

photo credit: Degree/Unilever (Disclosure: Unilever is a Burns Client)

Celebrity Marketing: The Who’s Who in a Celebrity’s Entourage



Knowing each members role in a talents team greatly increases the chance your offer will be accepted.

When deciding which celebrity to hire for a marketing campaign, it is important to remember that you are not just solely dealing with the celebrity. Talent comes with a team of various people that ensure the best deals, treatment, and representation. Celebrities rarely travel alone and will likely bring a member of their team such as an agent, publicist or manager during campaign related activities. These people handle various business and personal needs, and are often referred to as a celebrity’s “entourage.”

Before a celebrity arrives to campaign related events, it is important to know the role of each member on a celebrity team –

Agent: Commonly referred to as a talent or booking agent, this person finds jobs and handles the career for the celebrity that has employed them. It’s likely that marketers will deal with agents when attempting to recruit talent for campaigns or endorsements. Agents help their clients get auditions, communicate with casting directors, work on contracts so their client gets the best deal and arrangements, etc. Various types of public figures have agents such as actors, authors, directors, musicians, models, professional athletes, and even screenwriters.

Publicist: A publicist’s job is to handle their client’s relationship with the media, and help generate and manage publicity. Publicist’s tasks include arranging interviews and public appearances, handling press releases, organizing social media accounts, and advising on how to handle bad publicity. Unlike agents and managers, publicists often work for a flat fee instead of a percentage of the talent’s income.

Attorney: Most of the work of an entertainment attorney involves drafting contracts, negotiation, and mediation. These attorneys cover various areas including media, and legal fields such as corporate, finance, intellectual property, and privacy. Entertainment attorneys work with agents to finalize contracts for various projects, including compensation and participation. Some attorney’s job descriptions have become comparable to those of a star’s agent, manager or publicist; they are not limited to paperwork, but assist in building their client’s career.

Manager: Celebrity managers wear a variety of hats in their job, and have the ability to act as agents, publicists, contract negotiators, etc. Their responsibilities and duties can vary widely on a day to day basis. Managers help celebrities create daily schedules, create long-term career goals, give financial advice, and help to hire other members of a celebrity’s team. They are often the closest team member to a celebrity, which is why many enlist their parents or other family members to serve in this role.

Stylists: Stylists, or a celebrity’s “glam squad,” is a crucial part of their entourage. During filming and other campaign activities, celebrities can require their personal hair stylists, makeup artists, and wardrobe team to attend various events. Celebrity stylists can often times be costly, and have their own individual representation teams.

Label and/or publisher (if dealing with music): A label or publisher is the person or company that handles the issuing of music, images, books, or other works for sale and use in the entertainment industry. If marketers are looking to use a song in their campaign instead of a celebrity, they would go through the label or publisher that has the rights to said song.

photo credit: http://photopin.com

Five Negotiation Tips to Use with a Celebrity Marketing Agent

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Negotiate on your terms, not an agent or the other sides terms.

Negotiating contracts and offers with a celebrity and their team is often the final, and most important, part of the contracting process. After making a proposed formal offer, there is almost always a counter-offer made from the talent in which they alter some aspect of the suggested deal. Once this is done, the marketer, agency, and their associated legal teams review these changes – accepting those that are agreeable and pushing back on those that are not.

In order to have a successful experience, keep the following tips in mind

  1. Break It Down – A good way to agree on negotiations during contracting is to break the terms in to separate parts. It can often be easier to compartmentalize than take the “all or nothing” approach. By going through each component and deciding on solutions, negotiating large parts of a contract can seem less overwhelming.
  1. Research and Use Facts – Let the celebrity’s team know that the contract offers are in line with industry offers, standards, and pricing. When successfully negotiating, it is important to separate personal feelings from business; this makes it easier to justify the requests being made. Avoid making negotiations seem personal by using terms such as “I believe” or “I think,” always choose hard facts and list examples.
  1. Prioritize – Decide which elements of the contract are most important, and which can include some leniency. While negotiating, know the top priorities (usually the business or money-making opportunity) and how other details and sections categorize under that. The celebrity may have different priorities, so know which are the most important for both sides.
  1. Make Offers and Compromise – During the negotiating process, it is important for both sides to feel they’ve made a good deal. Don’t start the negotiating process by revealing the bottom line, leave room to meet the celebrity’s team halfway. Offers should always leave space for compromises on both party’s parts, and leave both sides feeling like something has been achieved on their end of the contract.
  1. End on a Positive Note – Find points of agreement throughout the contract and end on a positive note, this leaves the potential to work together again in the future. Agreeing on certain elements of the negotiation helps to set a positive and collaborative tone throughout the project. Creating a positive environment and work experience helps move along the project, generates progress, and may result in agreement on various aspects of the contract. You’ll be working with and wanting consensus or approval from the agent. It’s important for your campaign’s success to conclude the negotiation on a positive note.

The negotiation process will continue until all the items are fully aligned by both parties and a final contract is agreed upon. This may not be achieved in just one revision; there are many different variables that dictate how long the process may take.

source: nolo.com
photo credit: photopin.com

Behind the Scenes of Celebrity Negotiations


Negotiating and drafting a celebrity offer is easy once a well thought out statement of work (SOW) brings “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” into focus.

1. SOW Term

List the duration of the term. The SOW should be in effect from the first correspondence with the talent, through completion of their contractual obligations.

2. Type of Product

Define the type of brand and/or product being marketed. Is it a new product launch? A brand extension?

Tip: It may be helpful to identify the product’s position in the product life cycle to answer these questions.

3. Brand POV on Talent

Describe the ideal celebrity to best convey the campaign’s objectives. It may be helpful to list desired characteristics of the celebrity, in addition to those the brand would like to avoid.

Example: If your brand is known for being environmentally friendly, you wouldn’t want to hire someone who drives an SUV and denies anthropomorphic climate change.

4. Previous Talent Experience

Has this brand used talent before, and if so, whom did they use and why? Was the partnership successful? What about the project was/was not successful? What would the brand like to do differently this time?

5. Target Demographics

Who is the brand speaking to or attempting to speak to? Are they targeting a new demographic, or continuing with an existing audience?

Example: Health-conscious females, 18-24 years in age, who enjoy spontaneity in everyday life. These individuals value nature, organic products, and sharing their experiences with those around them.

6. Brief Campaign Overview

Include a detailed outline of the program’s objectives. What should the celebrity help the brand to achieve? This may include creating brand awareness, increasing sales, re-branding the product, etc.

7. Services Requested

What activities is the celebrity expected to participate in? This should include production days, public relations days, media training days, personal appearances, social media posts, etc.

Tip: Being thorough here is very important; it is never a good idea to ask for additional services just prior to or during production. Attempting to negotiate after the SOW may mean payment increase demands from the talent, or a lack of time for added service days.

8. Project Location & Timing

When and where will the requested services occur? Will the activities occur during a single block of time, or will they occur sporadically throughout the term?

Tip: It is important to note other details like travel requirements for the talent. 

9. Usage

List all advertising mediums and public relations activities the campaign will be utilizing. Be detailed and specific; anything that isn’t addressed may have to be renegotiated later and could result in extra costs.

10. Required Third Party Rights

Be as specific as possible when seeking clearances of third-party rights. It is important to detail the scope of work and usage requirements of the work.

Example: Use of music will require confirmation of the exact length, creative and usage rights, etc. in order to confirm approval and costs.

11. Exclusivity

List the brand and/or product categories that the celebrity will be prohibited from partnering with during the term of the campaign.

12. Term & Term Extension

Specify the length of the talent’s contract and any pre-negotiated term extensions including renewal term, optional usages, etc.

13. Territory

List the territories that the campaign will be active in, and if there is potential for the campaign to extend elsewhere. It is important to pre-negotiate costs for territory extensions upfront.

Example: A brand’s current media may only include North America, but has the potential to expand to Europe if the campaign proves successful.

14. Budget

Brands should be aware of hidden costs that may be associated with talent negotiations. Since there are more than just talent costs that come with signing a celebrity (ex. travel costs, union fees, team), an SOW assists in outlining every financial detail of the deal.

photo credit: fotolia.com

Record Sales and Awareness Propelled for Pharmaceutical Brands with Celebrity Marketing


Three scenarios lead to a powerful, third party celebrity endorsement that emotionally connects consumers to pharma brands.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most strictly regulated businesses, especially when it comes to advertising. It’s no secret that pharma has been hit with billions of dollars of fines, (over $13 billion in the last 5 years) stemming from misleading advertising mostly around ‘off-label’ claims.

An off-label claim is when a brand markets an FDA approved drug for an unapproved use (ex: using an antipsychotic medication for an eating disorder, or an anti-seizure drug to help combat alcoholism).

FDA restrictions can limit the pharmaceutical industries ability to be brand creative for fear of promoting anything not specifically ‘on-label’.

A powerful tool that pharmaceutical companies can utilize to emotionally connect with their target audience is the right celebrity endorsement.

This gives any pharmaceutical related endorsement credibility, because a celebrity not only has to be taking the product, but must be satisfied with the results.

Finding the right celebrity

Choosing the right celebrity can be challenging. They may or may not want to go public with their medical history and treatment. Some celebrities may be more comfortable in unbranded content that covers issues relating to a condition… There can also be some trepidation on the brand side.

Surprisingly, a detailed google search coupled with outreach to non-profits and/or associations who advocate for the condition can unearth some of the potential celebrities. Working with a third party celebrity expert can yield more choices and cover all bases.

Talent identification and vetting for a pharma brand is totally different than a traditional consumer or even over-the-counter (OTC) product.

Frito Lay, for example, can be less cautious when choosing celebrity endorsers for any one of its Doritos flavors, because they can pivot between different products and advertisements so easily. Pharma brands aren’t as nimble.

Pharma brands also need to negotiate unique arrangements for their celebrity, such as attending seminars, conferences, and other public relations events for medical professionals. There is some training that goes into preparing the celebrity for these events, and it needs to be accounted for in the initial negotiations and SOW.

There are typically three scenarios where a celebrity can be utilized as an endorser:

Best Case Scenario

The celebrity has publically or privately acknowledged having a certain ailment, and has revealed that they take your companies medication. If they have shown a willingness to do advertising before, approach them with an offer to be the face of your advertising campaign.

In these instances, a pharma brand may not have even considered using talent, but this revelation has sparked interest to capitalize.

Hasn’t Been Prescribed Medication Yet

In some instances, information may be available that a celebrity has been diagnosed (or is seeking help) with a particular medical condition. In this instance, medication has not yet been prescribed.

There is some risk involved, depending on the type of medication being prescribed. If the medication isn’t successful, or causes severe side effects, it could reflect poorly on the product if word gets out, so carefully craft your offer letter preserving privacy.

Willing to Switch Medications

Another scenario is if a celebrity has an ailment, is currently taking medication, but is willing to switch to a different product due to side effects or lack luster results.

There are other situations that can also come into play such as use of a celebrity family member.

In each scenario, the celebrity’s medical doctor would be engaged in the process. There can be a preliminary conversation with the brand’s medical team and the celebrity and his or her doctor. Furthermore, push for a call with the celebrity to personally gauge level of commitment to the endorsement.

In most cases, pharma companies do not want to be perceived as paying a celebrity to be on the product. This is not as much of a challenge for scenario number one above. Working with a talent procurement company that is experienced in these matters is essential to finding an organic candidate.

In all cases, a celebrity would need to be taking the specific medication (for the on-label use) for a period of time AND achieve the desired results.

photo credit: e-MagineArt.com via photopin cc

Three Benefits of Working with a Digital Celebrity Agent


Save time and money when hiring digital celebrities by working directly with an Agent vs. a Multi-Channel Network.

Brand Marketers are bringing more and more branded content to YouTube channels, but it isn’t as easy as picking up the phone and calling a YouTube star. There are layers of representation that need to be navigated to avoid missing out on added value, or worse, overpaying.

There are usually three routes to choose from when contacting digital celebrities. Brands can hire a celebrity agency to represent them, contact the agent directly, or work through a Multi Channel Network (MCN). An MCN is a company that manages thousands of YouTube channels and their stars. They help syndicate, monetize, and manage content from these channels.

To learn more about MCNs, click here 

Each avenue has its pros and cons, but the first step before contacting anyone, is understanding the restrictions of the campaign. What time frame is the brand working with? What are the budgetary limitations? What are the specific goals for the campaign (conversions, impressions, awareness, etc.)? This list will determine which avenue will be most effective.

This post will focus on the benefits of utilizing the talent agent route.

Megan Brown and Lauren Nogy, agents from the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) shared some insights on negotiating endorsements through a digital talent agent.

Personal Relationship with the Celebrity

Personal relationships the agents share with their clients can add tremendous value. “We know things [the digital celebrity] will do, things they won’t do right out of the gate and we can give brands the accurate, quick information they need.” explained Lauren Nogy.

This means less back and forth when negotiating because the agent knows what kind of offers the digital celebrity would accept, what companies they would be open to working with, and the style of branded content that organically fits within their channel.

Megan Brown elaborated,

“We are developing a personal relationship with our clients in order to have a good understanding of where they want to take their brand, and how they want to grow in their original platform.”

MCNs, on the other hand, have thousands of YouTube channels to manage. Aside from their top performers, it is difficult for an MCN to know each and every influencer on a personal level.

Extremely Responsive

The agent’s ability to get a hold of their client when others cannot is a considerable advantage.

“If [the talent] is traveling, if they’re at an event, if they are shooting that day, and they aren’t paying close attention to their phone or email we’re able to get in touch with them. Due to our close relationship with the talent, we are also able to give initial feedback that normally an MCN would have to get directly from the talent.” said Brown.

If there is an option between going through the MCN or the Agent, and time is a factor, the agent may be the best way to go.

Lower Fees

Dealing strictly through an agent will normally cost the brand 10% of the talent’s total fee (standard agent commission percentage). This price will vary, but it is significantly lower than an MCN.

Prices of 30% are common practice for larger MCNs, however this steeper fee can be worth it. MCNs add value that an agent cannot; they can guarantee specific performance goals, such as impressions and number of views.

MCNs offer other benefits which I will cover in another post.

photo credit: marfis75 via photopin cc