Who Wins for Brands – Digital Influencers or Traditional Celebrity Marketing?

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Four ways how digital influencers compete with traditional celebrities’ reach in marketing campaigns.

Influencer marketing works and brands are on board. With the increased presence of digital influencers, the role of traditional celebrities as a marketing tool is put into question. As consumers look for the latest trends and products, more companies are recognizing a shift in these consumer behaviors. As a result, brands are turning to digital influencers as the face of their campaigns.

Previously, traditional celebrities were able to influence purchasing decisions based in large part on their name recognition. However, the digital influencers’ increased social media traffic has granted them a larger piece of the marketing pie.

Over the past decade, social media channels and platforms, such as YouTube and Instagram, have accumulated large user bases. With this immense growth, brands are looking at digital influencers and social media stars as a valuable form of social engagement for online advertising campaigns.

The popularity of digital influencers has changed the definition of “celebrity,” forcing brands to rethink their traditional approach to working with celebrities. Listed below are four key insights as to why brands may prefer working with digital influencers.

1. Social Media Presence

Digital influencers have a strong following on social media. While traditional celebrities also have billions of followers across various social media channels, they don’t present the same authenticity as digital influencers. Digital influencers are seen as “regular people,” potentially with a greater online reach than idolized celebrities.  Because of this authenticity and accessibility on social media, digital influencers have a greater appeal to today’s audiences.

2. Price Point

Most often, celebrity endorsements are more expensive than partnerships with digital influencers. Extensive experience and previous track record add to the cost of using traditional celebrities.

3. More Tailored Audience

Followers of digital influencers pay close attention. They are a self-selected, very specific audience seeking advice and inspiration. By choosing specific digital influencers, brands narrow their audience.

4. Credible Third Party Endorsement

Whereas celebrities can provide exposure for a product, digital influencers can provide a certain level of understanding and connection to that product. A Twitter study found that social media users trust influencers nearly as much as they trust their friends. With that level of trust, a brand can benefit from the unique perspective influencers have on a campaign.

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Traditional Media Remains an Optimal Environment for Celebrity Marketing

8625795674_9be45d8f8f_zSocial and digital platforms are increasing in popularity, yet TV, radio and print are still home to some of the most dynamic celebrity marketing campaigns.

While many brands are upping their digital ad spend and taking advantage of the data and analytic tools social media channels are debuting, many brands are still investing deeply in traditional platforms.

These traditional platforms have advantages of their own and remain a powerhouse destination for marketing campaigns. As the use of new media continues to proliferate, traditional media is, at the least, an important supplemental piece to most campaigns.

Here are some of the benefits of using each form of traditional media and some successful celebrity marketing campaigns executed across them.

Radio

Radio and voiceover ads are more cost efficient than ads that run in other media without sacrificing a large reach. Statista found in spring 2016, 54.1% of Americans ages 18-64 listened to the radio each day. This put radio at third on the list of media with the most daily users, behind TV and email.

Buffalo Wild Wings used actor John Goodman, best known for his role in the 1990’s TV show “Roseanne,” to voice radio ads. The brand also released a TV commercial version of the ad, allowing for greater coverage and more recognition across two outlets.

By using a recognizable and strong sounding celebrity voice, Buffalo Wild Wings was able to grab the attention of listeners in key regions they wanted to target.

Print

According to The Association of Magazine Media (MPA), a study by Nielsen Catalina Solutions

showed magazines had the highest average return on advertising spend when compared to display, cross media, linear TV, mobile and digital video.

Aveeno, the skincare brand, has a long running partnership with actress Jennifer Aniston. They have run a variety of different print ads featuring Jennifer in several different publications. Since 2012, the ads have appeared in People, InStyle, Marie Claire, Allure and Elle.

The brand used the medium successfully by executing a long term campaign with different creative across magazines with different readerships.

TV

TV persists as the media platform with the largest daily reach. According to Statista, in spring 2016, 75.5% of US population was exposed to broadcast/cable TV each day.

Pizza Hut partnered with “Saturday Night Live” star, Kristen Wiig for a campaign promoting their brand image as the company that delivers the pizza consumers want, fast.

In the ad, Kristen portrays multiple different Americans all with the same desire of what Pizza Hut can provide. The brand was able to cleverly mimic the diversity of the audience of the medium within the ad, making it relatable to many different consumers who are exposed to it.

The campaign includes a 30 and a 60-second spot supplemented with a radio spot, digital efforts and social media posts, making for a strong 360 campaign.

photo credit: Michele Ursino via Flickr

Celebrity Marketing in the Healthcare Industry has Huge Benefits for Brands

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The connection fans feel to celebrities is intensified when they speak about medical causes or products.

Medical issues are generally very personal and intimate. When a celebrity makes a move to promote a medical product or cause, they show their fans a level of trust and openness that fans often look for but do not always get.

Fans feel closer to the celebrity for sharing the news and have a higher respect for them and for the cause or product they are endorsing in light of it.

Fans that are affected by the same condition feel a special connection to the celebrity and have even more allegiance to what they have to say on the topic.

For these reasons, celebrity marketing in the healthcare industry is extremely successful and useful. Here are some of the most impactful uses of celebrity marketing in healthcare.

Abbvie, a biopharmaceutical company, partnered with Julianne Hough, an actress and professional dancer best known for her role on “Dancing with the Stars.”

In 2008 she revealed she has a medical condition called Endometriosis. The disease is estimated to affect 1 in 10 women but isn’t well known or easily diagnosable.

In March 2017, Abbvie announced its partnership with Julianne in their campaign titled “Get in the Know about ME in EndoMEtriosis.” The goal is to educate women on recognizing symptoms of the disease and provide women who have the disease an opportunity to talk about their experiences.

Abbvie made a power move by enlisting an admired celebrity to bring attention to a cause that affects such a large segment of the population.

In addition to using celebrities to promote general health causes, brands can also partner with celebrities to promote specific products. This approach has high potential, as long as brands are careful to follow all regulations to avoid legal trouble

Valeant Pharmaceuticals produces a toe fungus treatment medication called Jublia. They recruited NFL greats Deion Sanders, Howie Long and Phil Simms to promote the product.

The brand aired a 30 second TV commercial during Super Bowl 50 with a comedic tone starring the three athletes.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals matched their use of celebrities with the right platform and audience. By airing the ad during the Super Bowl they were able to reach many potential consumers, and by using celebrities that made sense in that context, they were able to make a purposeful connection.

Tecfidera is a prescription medication produced by biotechnology brand Biogen, used to treat the autoimmune disease Multiple Sclerosis. The brand partnered with Jamie-Lynn Sigler to promote the product.

The actress, best known for her role on “The Sopranos,” revealed in early 2016 that she has Multiple Sclerosis. Shortly afterward the “Reimage MySelf” campaign debuted.

The campaign touted Jamie-Lynn as a former Tecfidera patient and included a website with written pieces of her stories dealing with the disease.

The brand won a second place award at the 2017 Direct to Consumer National Advertising Awards in the category of Best Use of Celebrity in Campaign/PSA. Their effective use of a celebrity allowed them to garner support from other MS patients and increase awareness and usage of their product.

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Brands Avoid Entanglement with Societal & Political Issues by Using Celebrity Marketing

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Brands with clear standpoints on political issues open themselves up to losing consumers who disagree.

Celebrity marketing allows brands to appeal to a wide variety of people and remain neutral on societal issues. Using a celebrity that is respected and well-liked will generate widespread appeal for a brand.

In a very polarized political climate, brands that make their political values clear in their marketing and branding lose a considerable amount of consumers and brand fans that fall on the other end of the spectrum.

Celebrities are the best way to stay away from societal issues and ensure brands gain and retain consumers.

A study done by the American Association of Advertising Agencies and research firm SSRS showed that consumers don’t like when brands focus their branding around societal and political issues. 58% of respondents reported feeling this way.

The 2017 Super Bowl, just a few weeks after President Trump’s inauguration, was filled with commercials that contained political messages.

84 Lumber’s 90 second spot regarded the controversial topic of immigration. It showed the story of immigrants traveling from Mexico and entering through a door in the wall President Trump has discussed building to keep out illegal immigrants.

Seeing as it was focused on such a divisive issue, the ad and the brand received a strong negative response from many people.

Not only do consumers have opinions about what brands’ political beliefs are, they take action and desert brands they disagree with.

A survey conducted by Ipsos, a market and opinion research company, revealed that 25% of consumers admitted that in the past three months they had boycotted a brand because its political leanings contrasted with their own.

With the data the survey provides, it’s safe to conclude that the backlash that 84 Lumber received on social media translated into lost consumers. By so distinctly showing their values in this ad they set themselves up to lose potential business from a massive amount of people.

The survey included 28 different brands. Amongst them were Uber and Nordstrom, both who took politically charged actions in the months prior. Uber, by lowering prices during an airport taxi strike that was in protest of Trump’s immigration ban, and Nordstrom, by pulling Ivanka Trump’s clothing line from their stores. Both brands saw over 30% boycott rate from the opposing side.

Comcast and Intel were included in the survey as well. It was revealed that they were two of the brands that were mainly unscathed in the minds of consumers.

Both Brands have partnered with celebrities in that past, allowing them to achieve likability and respect from the masses and avoid political topics.

Intel has long partnered with “The Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons. In March 2017, they released an ad featuring him and LeBron James, two very well-liked celebrities. Comcast has worked with Sofia Vergara, Taylor Swift, Cole Hamels and Matt Ryan to construct a positive and non-controversial image.

Both brands were able to avoid boycotts by using celebrities to cultivate a good public perception.

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Updates to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat: What Brands Need to Know for Their Celebrity Marketing

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Big changes are taking place across the major social channels as they compete to one up each other and rise above the rest.

Brands and marketers need to stay up to date and adapt their campaigns based on updates. Social and digital trends change quickly. In order to lead the pack and get the most out of a campaign, brands must stay current and be ready for more change.

Social Media has become an integral part of nearly all marketing campaigns.

Here is what the major social channels are doing next, along with some insight on how these features affect influencer and celebrity marketing.

Facebook

Facebook announced that they’ll be releasing an app for influencers to create videos. The feature will operate with Facebook Live and only be accessible to celebrities, journalists and internet influencers, or any other verified accounts.

Brands can integrate themselves with celebrities in an entirely new way through this feature. Current celebrity endorsement avenues include celebrities posting on their Facebook pages or influencers mentioning products or brands in their YouTube videos. The video creation app combines both, creating a new opportunity for brand and celebrity partnerships.

Snapchat

After receiving a lot of criticism from marketers and advertisers who want to use metrics to assess campaigns, Snapchat has tried to match the other social channels in terms of data and analytics. They released the paperclip tool which allows links to be attached to snaps.

This provides brands opportunity to drive more traffic to their websites and measure how much traffic comes from the ads’ placement on Snapchat specifically. When promoting a brand on Snapchat, celebrities can now include a link to whatever the brand chooses right within the snap.

Instagram

In an attempt to help brands follow the endorsement rules put forth by the FTC, Instagram launched a “paid partnerships” feature. It allows celebrities to clearly mark the posts that feature the partnerships they have with brands.

This feature allows brands to be clear and transparent about endorsements. Using this tool on Instagram will keep brands out of conflict with the FTC.

Social Overall

Across all social media platforms, more tools for data and analytics are being developed. Social channels are accommodating brands’ demands for better marketing outlets and striving to provide the best place for ads.

Using these tools as they are released gives brand marketers opportunity to showcase their campaigns and provides helpful insight for planning future campaigns.

Facebook and Twitter are among channels focusing on live streaming events. This trend is another to follow as it develops. With the decline of TV, this is another potential format for celebrity marketing campaigns to flourish.

 
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Brands Seize Advantage Using Sports Stars to Reach Youth Market via Celebrity Marketing

wheatiesBrands grab the attention of children and adolescents by using pro athletes they idolize for endorsements.

Children are encouraged to “dream big,” and for many of them, that big dream is to one day be a professional athlete. Many kids keep this dream long into adolescence and spend their entire childhood embracing their fandom of these big name athletes. Kids see athletes as super heroes and role models who embody what they hope to accomplish when they grow up.

With that, kids put an enormous amount of weight into what pro athletes say and how they behave. This provides brands with an opportunity to tie their brand to an athlete and reach the youth market.

Perhaps the most iconic of all athlete endorsements belongs to Wheaties Cereal. Since they first partnered with professional baseball in the 1930s, Wheaties has partnered with top athletes to identify itself as the food brand to fuel your body. Children for generations have looked to Wheaties and seen their favorite sports stars grace the front of the box, picking up the product in hopes of achieving the same heights as those pictured.

Another way to effectively reach the youth market with sports celebrities is by having them use the product themselves.

Gatorade used pro athletes to inspire kids and reinforce the idea that they can grow up to be anything they want if they work hard. In their ad campaign Never Lose the Love, they feature Usain Bolt and Serena Williams being cheered on by their younger selves.

By showing kids in the ad, Gatorade is able to relate to children and show them that by drinking Gatorade like these athletes, they one day too can reach the same success.

Even brands that don’t come to mind when thinking of sports can leverage pro athletes. The toy brand Little Tikes used pro athlete Lebron James to reach young aspiring athletes by integrating him into their products and brand.

Little Tikes boasts that LeBron got his start on a Little Tikes hoop and now kids can too. Little Tikes has a range of different products with LeBron’s name and picture. The official partnership is between the brand and the LeBron James Family Foundation, which has a mission to better the lives of children and young adults.

By literally using the face of LeBron James on their products, Little Tikes is able to reach and have an impression on kids who look up to LeBron and want to take the same steps he has taken to success.

photo credit: Mike Steele via Flickr

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