Embracing Change: Why Celebrity Marketing Looks Beyond Facebook to be Effective

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The growing trends of consumer dissatisfaction with social media privacy is a roadblock that marketers can avoid with the right strategies in place.

For good reason, headlines around the world have been dominated by ongoing problems for the world’s first social media giant. Privacy has always been a concern for consumers but the issue has flared up again with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

It is important to understand the nuance behind the issue. Social media companies and corporation have been utilizing data legally obtained from users who sign terms of service for years and it has let to features like micro and geo-targeting.

The current controversy deals with the illegal collection of data through a third-party research firm who violated Facebook’s terms of service and multiple requests for deletion of data. As usual, the optics are terrible despite Facebook’s good intentions, while consumers are growing impatient with the lack of progress in privacy standards.

Not too long ago, people were calling on Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg to run for President, now he is being called to testify in front of Congress for his company’s shortcomings.

The advent of social media has been a boon for marketers and advertisers, providing endless opportunities to interact with consumers and tailor brand identities, but anticipating change is a much more universal and time-tested marketing tool.

With this in mind, marketers should be very wary not to have a reliance on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by diversifying their ad spend in other mediums.

Television is a tried and true marketing method and will remain so, but more surprising is the relevancy of audio advertising (radio and streaming) in the age of social media. Studies continue to show that radio is still healthy in the ROI department and streaming will become a global standard with the rise of AI home assistants/speakers.

This does not negate the effectiveness of social media marketing however, but there are plenty other up and coming platforms that marketers should be aware of.

Of course there is Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram (I include Instagram even though they are owned by Facebook due to the lack of personal information needed on the platform). There are many other niche sites that can be used to target consumers; check out this great list from Hootsuite.

Other platforms like YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, Flickr, and LinkedIn are sites striving to protect their marketing integrity and are free of the issues plaguing Facebook. Diversifying your brand’s digital/traditional footprint by moving away from a Facebook monopoly is a great way to insulate your brand from future scandals involving the privacy of consumers.

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What Apple’s Viral HomePod Ad with FKA Twigs Tells Us About Celebrity Marketing

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With the viral success of Apple’s ad for its newest product line, what can brands learn to boost the effectiveness of their celebrity marketing campaigns?

In June of 2017, Apple announced their intention to enter the wireless speaker/AI assistant market with their new HomePod line. It marked a significant new step away from the brand’s identity of traditional hardware, but an acknowledgment of the changing pace of the device marketplace.

However, consumers were already well aware that Apple was lagging behind Amazon and Google in this tech sector, so how did Apple’s marketing strategy combat this?

For nearly two decades, Apple’s brand identity has been centered on music. After all, they invented iTunes which dominated the early digital music market and made the iPod a global phenomenon.

They have stressed that the HomePod will be a “music-first” device and followed up that brand message with an ad/short film directed by Spike Jonze and featuring FKA Twigs that quickly gained viral status.

Here’s what this viral spot tells us about celebrity marketing:

1). Incorporating Celebrities’ Talents Can Elevate a Brand’s Message

Any consumer who watched this short film will immediately remember the old iPod campaigns with silhouette dancers and vibrant color pallets, which we must assume was the intention.

Clearly Apple wanted to continue but modernize their core message. For this they used an Oscar winning director, Spike Jonze and a world-renowned dancer/musician, FKA Twigs.

Many outlets praised the ad simply for the credentials of those involved, which gave consumers an early perception of quality of the spot and the brand.

Celebrities in their natural environments not only produce better quality marketing tools, but it streamlines the planning process by encouraging innovation from the artists.

2). Implementing Cause and Artistic License is a Sure-Fire Way to Success

While maintaining the brand message, creative license was taken to incorporate concepts of dealing with depression. During the film, Twigs uses the music that Apple can provide to overcome her feelings of repetition and despare from her career.

It is important for marketers not to take this element to far however. There is often a fine line between partnering or discussing a cause and taking advantage of it to sell products. Consumers are attentive and do not enjoy faux-cause marketing strategies.

Regardless, there is little doubt that the creative element of the ad has led to its viral success. The colorful set has also driven extra content about the ad on social media. The best ads rarely need pinpoint cooperation to show their value. Seeing the passion of everyone involved to discuss their product proves that the correct creative priorities can reinforce a brand’s message.

3). The Ad Directing Trend is Here to Stay

Add this spot to the growing list of short films that have been produced by Hollywood regulars for various brands. Walmart enlisted the talents of Dee Rees (Mudbound), Melissa McCarthy and Nancy Meyers for an Oscars campaign. Apple is no stranger to using this method having first done a similar project with Ridley Scott in 1984 when launching the Macintosh computer.

This method will only continue to prove its power of innovation in the advertising industry. Brands with short films have received very positive responses and it is a great way to partner with celebrity influencers to make use of their talents.

photo credit: VladJanuary via (flickr)

Why Voice-Over Partnerships are Still Important to Celebrity Marketing

Tommy Lopez (pexels)How consumer trends are shaping voice-overs and how your brand can benefit.

Partnerships don’t need an appearance on camera to be effective. Voice work existed long before television marketing in the form of the radio, which may make the practice seem dated. However, current consumer data continues to prove voice-overs are an effective marketing tool.

Previously I outlined “Five Reasons to Add Celebrity Voice-Overs,” but here I want to revisit voice-overs in celebrity marketing and its relevance in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Here are three reasons voice-overs are still valuable to celebrity marketers.

1). The Emotional Connection

If you are a regular reader you understand my fondness for personalization in digital marketing. This concept should extend to the traditional voice-over medium as well.

A recently released survey of marketing professionals compiled by Voices.com found the most desired element in a voice-over partnership was maximizing the emotional connection to consumers.

Now that sounds quite vague and it’s supposed to be. The magic of celebrity marketing firms like Burns is an ability to identify the best candidate to achieve emotional connection.

Even if the celebrity isn’t a recognizable A-lister, the right voice can elevate a brand’s connection to consumers.

2). The Potential for Broader Demographic Reach

Voice-over marketing does not have to be restricted to a commercial setting. With the evolving world of advertising moving towards digital monopoly, marketers can preempt the trend by incorporating voice-overs into their digital marketing.

As voice actress Joan Baker puts it, “It seems more and more [that] technology leads to the need for more voices to humanize the tech experience. It’s the nature of communication to want to spread information to a wider and wider range of people, and people overwhelmingly prefer to be spoken to by other people.”

Another finding by the Voices.com study backs up Baker’s point. At 93%, a large majority of consumers would rather hear a natural voice over an artificial one.

This gives marketers a great opportunity to apply voice-overs to their digital marketing strategies to personalize customer experiences and better shape an online identity.

3). The Ability to Re-brand

Voice-overs are also a great way to kick off a re-branding process. Many brands including Allstate, Progressive, Coors and Weight-Watchers had massive success establishing their voice.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardees’ is a great example. They have taken a lot of flack over the years for their controversial advertising campaigns that objectify women, but recently shifted strategy with a new partnership. Using Matthew McConaughey in a voice-over, they re-established their brand with a recognizable voice who immediately associated the brand with southern comforts.

They may not be the best quality or most viral ads on the planet, but sometimes they don’t need to be. Using voice-overs in celebrity marketing is still a highly effective means of emotionally connecting with customers and building the brand. The data proves it.

photo credit: Tommy Lopez via (pexels)

Young Olympians Can Teach Celebrity Marketers About Generation Z

Elena Vasileva (flickr)Now that the Olympic stars of the future have arrived, how can they improve marketers’ understanding of the next generation?

The Olympic Games are a unique event in human history, for they bring the world together through the pursuit of excellence and celebration of the human spirit.

These athletes have unprecedented reach and been used for decades in marketing campaigns to represent brands.

However, the Winter Games have been taken over by a new wave of young superstars like Chloe Kim, Red Gerard, Maame Biney, Vincent Zhou, and Nathan Chen. Not surprisingly, the successes of these athletes have almost been overshadowed by their personalities.

Here are two major lessons that these new Olympians can teach celebrity marketers.

The Myth of “Digital Obsession”

We have all heard the critics of Millennials and Gen Z lamenting that the social fabric is being ruined by rampant use of technology. These cliches have become rather toxic.

If there is anything that these athletes are proving, it is that this myth needs to die quickly. Celebrity marketers must meet Gen Z on their level, creating experiences and content that appeal to them.

Chloe Kim dominated the half pipe on her way to a near perfect score, gold medal, and national headlines. But many outlets reported instead that the tweeted her cravings while waiting for her next run.

That is unheard of in Olympic sport. Instead of folding under pressure, she tweeted and showed her composure, then went out and became the youngest gold medal winner in the history of the event.

It would be naive to suggest there was no danger associated with rampant obsession with technology, but celebrity marketers who understand that technology usage by younger generations is not to be feared will be in position to reap the rewards as it becomes embraced as the new normal.

Influencer Personality Doesn’t Have an Age Requirement

A common perception held by some marketing professionals is partnerships with younger influencers are much more volatile and not worth the risk. Young Olympians have already begun to buck this trend.

Simply by qualifying, athletes like Red Gerard, Maame Biney, and Chloe Kim were approached by top brands for sponsorship opportunities and they have been rewarded by their successes.

Generation Z should not be defined by traditional standards of maturity and the need to reach a certain threshold to be an effective influencer. These athletes are still teenagers by any measure.

However, it reinforces the emerging doctrine that influencers should be recruited for the experience they give consumers rather than relying on old endorsement standards.

A 17-year-old who wins a gold medal in a sport they live for, who willing tweets they are hungry for ice cream or chips to calm nerves can be just as impactful with consumers as a more expensive A-lister with less connection to the product.

Partnering with an Olympic athlete can be tricky since they aren’t in the public eye for long periods of time, but young athletes like those mentioned above are the future. Smart marketers and brand agents recognize, even if you do not partner directly with them, that the way these stars interact with the market should be adopted to succeed.

photo credit: Elena Vasileva via (flickr)

 

What Celebrity Marketing Can Take from Subscription Box Brands

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In the same way that subscription boxes customize consumer experiences, celebrity marketing must similarly evolve to meet more needs.

Stereotypes of celebrity marketing took some time to change since the advent of social media. The days of the traditional celebrity holding up a product for a camera seem to be long over, as consumers demand new types of interactions with marketing content.

As Jazmin Garcia de Leon of Brandingmag describes it, consumers “are more creative, ambitious, and informed than ever. They are skeptical and savvy about branding and marketing, and they own technology that even enables them to be the producers, promoters, marketers, and event merchants of their own media and product.”

Subscription box brands are a great example of this new consumer mentality. They serve both as a service and a marketing tool, as the possibilities for any combination of licensed products is endless.

Since this form of service receives such glowing praise from consumers and marketers alike, naturally it is important to adopt their best practices. Here are three things that celebrity marketers can learn from subscription box brands.

1. Customization is Key

Consumers want what they want, this is nothing new, but the new breed of consumers require the chance to cater a product they love to their individual needs. The trick for a marketer is maintaining the balance of customizability and relevance to the marketplace as a whole.

Box brands like Birchbox are known for their underlying service for providing five make-up products monthly at affordable prices. Yet they also give subscribers the chance to tailor their box around a specific need for the month, centered around different categories.

This level of customization is not brand breaking or even market restricting, but it is a cost-effective way of using the product to sell the service.

2. Keep Things Exciting but Never Predictable

Often it is difficult to keep entire audiences enthusiastic about the message you are communicating. After all, there are only so many ways to promote a product with a celebrity, right? Not so fast. Subscription boxes create hype around their products by blending the product with what Lucy Whitehouse of Cosmetics Design-Europe calls the “OMG I Got a Present” Theory.

Establishing your brand as one to surprise their consumers by connecting directly is a great way to to do this. Say for example a consumer orders your product online, why not have your celebrity influencer deliver it to them personally or have them add in their personal touch to the order?

3. Focus on Building Communities

Box brands are best known for their ability to create fandoms or communities around their products. Several of them boast high engagement from consumers who look forward to the monthly surprise and share their hauls with the world.

Monthly boxes also have the chance to accomplish CSR goals as well. A pair of women in Naperville, Illinois created their own subscription boxes stuffed with inspiration items for girls to build self-worth in the surrounding community, instantly sparking a media sensation.

The sooner marketers can utilize influencers to enact these lessons, the better for their product in the long run.

The culmination of personalized marketing is the formation of a community following and subscription boxes teach marketers that goals never have to be pursued on-by-one, but can be combined into one product that the right celebrity influencer can deliver for consumers.

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Part II: Navigating the Pitfalls of Celebrity Influencer Marketing

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Safeguarding your message and having a clear contingency plan can save countless headaches and campaigns.

As in Part I, brands must evolve to have a conscious grasp on the content their consumers want to enjoy. Approaching a partnership from the perspective of the desired audience lends to the authenticity and relatability of the brand.

However, marketers must also keep the worst case scenario in mind, and have a clearly defined plan of action to protect your brand’s assets. Here are two more ways that marketers can avoid the dangers of influencer marketing.

3. Stay in Control of Your Message

Most important for marketers when dealing with celebrity influencers is to remember to maintain control whenever possible. Crises are always hard to accurately predict, but sometimes it may be wiser to turn down a partnership with a slam-dunk influencer that has the potential to rob your brand of its consumer credibility.

No matter how many precautions you take in selecting an influencer, there is always the possibility that a partnership could backfire should a scandal arise. In a scenario such as this, there are questions to be asked:

First, is the character of the influencer damaged enough to damage the brand immediately?

Second, would a continued association be a hindrance to the brand’s message?

Third, has the influencer alienated the desired demographics?

Ending a partnership in the right circumstances has the potential to place you in the good graces of society for taking action. Yet, it could also alienate your consumers should you detach at the wrong time.

Other marketers advocate for a neutral stance on an influencer’s actions and maintaining a partnership throughout a scandal, believing that they will always be valuable for their exposure. Effectively avoiding catastrophe requires a clear crisis management plan that values your brand message ahead of any other factor, and a proactive stance to take the appropriate action.

4. Beef Up Your Brand’s Personality

The amount of access afforded to brands by social media has created a culture of flashy postings like ‘Twitter wars‘ that come to define how a brand is perceived. Utilizing this resource can be a preemptive resource to protect your message from being harmed by an emergency situation.

By infusing comedy or compassion into your brand’s interactions with consumers, you can begin to construct your ideal position in popular culture. In the midst of a public relations crisis, having a brand personality reserves credibility in the minds of consumers and has the potential to alienate the influencer’s bad behavior from your brand values.

Marketers must be aware how much to push the envelope in the content they release,  a topic for another day. Staying proactive is essential in the digital realm and will remove the ability for influencers to hijack your brands message should a crisis arise.

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Part I: Navigating the Pitfalls of Celebrity Influencer Marketing

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When partnering your brand with a celebrity influencer, knowing the proper ways to safeguard your message can be the difference between success and disaster.

As more and more brands decide to utilize digital influencers to reach untapped demographics of consumers, there inevitably comes a time when controversy sours the phenomenon. It is not secret that influencers sometimes create scandalous firestorms, and more recently a few have made national headline news.

With so many brands becoming hesitant to entrust their image to a potential liability, there is massive opportunity for those who know how to properly position their brand to capitalize. Parts I and II of this post will each highlight two ways marketers can avoid the dangers of influencer marketing.

1. Represent Your Audience

It is simply not enough in the current marketing climate to merely know the audience you are trying to reach with your product. To stay on the cutting edge, marketers must now be able to provide their consumers with the content they desire. This means that your brand message must be excessively tailored to fulfill your established values.

Approach the search for an influencer from the mind of who you are selling to. If you are targeting young professionals, identify the trends in that age group and select influencers who represent those trends.

When searching for an influencer to partner with your brand, seeking relevance should be as important as influence. Rather than chasing the individual that will gain you the most exposure, marketers should turn to those that have engaged followers that will boos the influencer to consumer relationship.

The logic is simple, reaching many small influencers who have a hardcore fan-base can be much more effective than a larger influencer whose fans may not care about endorsed products, which can greatly increase the efficiency of campaigns.

2. Aim for Authenticity and Transparency

Another pitfall of influencer marketing lies in the product’s connection to consumers. Leaving an impression is certainly important, but shock value or even viral status does not last forever.

A lack of connection to a product has been the downfall of many campaigns, leading marketers to favor advocacy over influence. Advocacy differs from influence in that the talent encourages conversation about the product and requires active participation from both marketers and influencers who desire to equally benefit over a longer period of time rather than a simple one-time transaction.

Shallow partnerships have plagued the industry and have left some consumers feeling disillusioned. Marketers can short this by finding influencers that may already use their product or have a glaring need that can be filled, but it is important to keep the relationship two-sided.

Keeping a brand’s message authentic does not necessarily have to be affected by fears of overexposure either. Provided that influencers are clearly passionate about producing content with the product or service and bringing it into their lives or professions, consumers will connect with the brand message and adopt it for themselves.

To ensure that their message remains authentic, marketers should only partner with influencers who are willing to format their content to fit the needs of the brand. Close coordination is essential to tailor the tone properly and safeguard the inevitability of mistakes in a campaign’s execution.

A well-crafted brand identity will come to directly represent the values that their customers hold, which produces brand loyalty and guarantees future sales.

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