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)

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Esports Fans Crave Celebrity Marketing Through Social Media

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Combining trends of rising social media usage and esports viewership can lead to significant future growth from any brand partnership.

Esports have grown out of its trendy status and are here to stay. What many thought would be a fad has now grown into a worldwide phenomenon and is challenging conventional entertainment giants.

The largest global esports event, The Dota 2 International Championship, was viewed by 40 million people with as many as two million watching at one point. The entire tournament drew 92 million viewers with over 509 million hours of video consumed.

The League of Legends World Championship brought in even larger crowds than Dota’s with a total of almost 58 million viewers, a yearly growth of 34%. The semi-finals drew a total of 80 million unique people watching concurrently. The parent company, Riot Games, boasts that their events feature professionals from 28 different countries, its global audience consuming over 1.2 billion hours of content.

If these events continue to grow at their current rates, it will only be a matter of time before they surpass the Super Bowl, which reaches over 110 million unique viewers.

Similarly, worldwide social media usage has been rising exponentially, with an estimate two-and-a-half billion global users. Users within the 16-34 age demographic spend an average of 3.21% of their day watching social media video like esports. The average age of a US esports viewer lies within the 25-34 age group, making up almost 40% of the total audience. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have begun their scramble to be included in the esports market.

However, it is important to reach these consumers exclusively on social media. Companies like ESPN and NBC are trying to bring esports to television audiences, but esports ratings clearly point to fans’ desire to keep content in the digital sphere. Brands can capitalize on this by seizing the opportunity to advertise on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch or even partnering with well-known esports professionals like Lee “Faker” Sang-hyoek, Soren Bjerg, and Yiliang Peng.

Take for example Gillette’s move to announce professional esports gamer xPeke as its Global Brand Ambassador. The Spanish celebrity was featured in first-of-its-kind commercials with esports highlights to promote the partnership and it spread all over YouTube. Gillette also collaborated xPeke with their international superstar partner Neymar Jr. leading to increased exposure for him and esports in general.

Another company, HyperX, decided to endorse a crossover athlete, NBA player Gordon Hayward. This apparel deal showed the early connection between esports and traditional celebrities, with Hayward agreeing to only wear HyperX headsets and appear in campaigns for the brand that is popular with gamers.

Celebrity marketing continues to evolve with the integration of esports into the entertainment sphere. Brands can now reach a sizable market of international consumers through a partnership with talent from prominent esports leagues. Getting in on the action at this point will put brands in a prime position to reap the benefits of larger audiences going forward.

photo credit: nullienphotography via flickr.com

 

Celebrity Marketing in Six-Seconds

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When looking to strike a chord with millennials and Generation Z, six-second advertisements lead the way.

A new form of video storytelling has hit the market. With lower attention spans and increased usage of mobile devices across multiple generations, six-seconds advertisements are the solution.

As brands and agencies prepare for this new era, these six-second video advertisements convey simple messages making immediate connections with viewers. There is a niche gap in the market for six-second media engagements and brands have begun to fill that void.

Although these advertisements were first introduced by YouTube as, “bumper ads,” several corporations have joined the movement utilizing the format. Fox began pushing out six-second advertisements during live sporting events, announcing that they will air nine of these short spots during its Thanksgiving Day NFL game. Prior to this announcement, Fox had been running six-second commercials in NFL games and the World Series. Similarly, AMC has decided to run six-second commercials during this season of the series, The Walking Dead. Facebook has also followed suit, announcing intentions to revamp six-second advertisements on its platform.

Even Twitter wants to join the six-second ad craze. In an effort to produce these short spots, they created, #Fuel. This new service is designed to help advertisers create content specifically for the platform as well as edit videos to conform to the six-second trend.

While six-second advertisements are a fairly new format, they have certainly left an impression already. According to a Google-led study, nine out of 10 six-second advertisements drove recall and 61 percent increased brand awareness.

Viewers want entertainment, innovation and disruption, and six-second spots seamlessly fit the mold. While advertisers continuously look to improve the viewing experience, adding celebrity features as another layer to the mix could be just what they need.

While six-second spots are defining digital presence, celebrities and influencers have already marked their territory in the digital sphere. Because celebrity marketing dominates digital, this “snackable content” elicits a new opportunity for brands to enhance this innovative format. Shorter advertisements certainly engage viewers, but celebrities have the potential to make these spots unforgettable. The combination of powerful celebrity marketing and the allure of six-second advertisements can lead to competitive advantages.

Getting right to the point, six-second advertisements keep viewers tuned in, especially millennials and Generation Z consumers with shorter attention spans. These short spots have the potential to command the digital sphere and further evolve with the inclusion of celebrities and influencers.

photo credit: Raphael Silva via Pixabay.com

Embracing Culture with Celebrity Marketing

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Brands can stand out with cultural intelligence and promise.

What exactly is cultural intelligence and how does it relate to brands?

Cultural intelligence is the power that brings brands to the forefront of current events. It has the ability to drive brand growth and create iconic brands.

Cultural intelligence is the ability to relate to and work effectively across cultures. When brands consistently communicate with their audience and constantly deliver on the promise they make, brands demonstrate cultural intelligence.

Brands that strive for success must be relevant in the rapidly evolving culture of consumers. Brands that ignore the now and the cultures that ensue go unnoticed and appear out of touch. As a result, brands must work alongside current events, co-creating culture through music, sport, fashion, etc.

One way brands can work alongside, while also creating culture is through celebrities. The popularity of celebrities spans all cultures and directly influences consumers. Celebrities help brands establish the iconic image they desire and further stress the brands’ promise to consumers.

A celebrity marketing campaign is an extension of a brand’s cultural intelligence. It proves the brand understands consumers’ wants and needs in the current culture climate in order to establish a connection.

Embedding brands into culture is a long-term strategic venture. However, by understanding and embracing culture, brands are able to project their image beyond simple advertising and spark interest amongst consumers.

Along with cultural intelligence comes cultural promise.

It is the brand’s commitment to stay true to its core beliefs and promises. The more consistently and emphatically brands dedicate themselves to their promise and to culture, the greater its significance factor. With strong significance and a boost from celebrity endorsements, brands not only look successful, but become symbolic.

Although it may seem that consumers dominate in this ever-changing world, it is important to remember brands have a unique advantage. Using their cultural intelligence and promise, brands can engage with and influence culture. It is culture that persuades consumers and keeps brands in the limelight.

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Celebrity Marketing at Sporting Events

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When it comes to sporting events, celebrities and social media are the major players driving social engagement before, during, and after the game.

The impact of celebrities on audience engagement at sporting events is real. The impact of social media on audience engagement is just as real. Combined, these two influential forces and sporting events become one dynamite hotspot for brands to connect with fans.

Linking popular marketing campaigns to high-profile sporting events is not a new idea. However, the rise of social media adds a valuable, new element to the marketing mix. When social platforms work hand-in-hand with celebrity marketing campaigns featured at major sporting events, audience engagement will increase.

Brands that are able to generate creative and compelling videos can drive social engagement surrounding sporting events. Using the power of social media, these videos may become viral and generate buzz around the event. Similarly, brands featuring celebrities within their marketing campaigns at sporting events can achieve higher levels of engagement.

Beyond simply creating buzz, well-known sports teams and their social channels have found a way to engage with sports fans during the actual event.

A few professional sports teams have figured out how to draw attention away from personal phone screens and attract fans to the only screen that matters, the jumbotron. The Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Sounders and San Francisco Giants use technology powered by Tagboard that shows their Instagram stories on massive displays inside the stadium. These teams have found the way to grow their social media followings and also keep the focus on the field.

Combining celebrity title with social media, these sports teams engage fans, while still promoting their brand. As teams recognize this potential for branding, they discover ways to monetize content.

In addition, these massive displays take fan engagement another step further by featuring user-generated content. This keeps fans involved in the action on the field, while simultaneously becoming the focus of the screen. Furthermore, Tagboard created a tool that makes it easier to search content across keyboards, phrases, accounts and hashtags.

Tagboard has put a new spin on advertising during sporting events. Brands that want to get a leg up and connect with sports fans must recognize the influence of celebrity marketing and in turn, create captivating video content for social media platforms that will get fans involved.

photo credit: Pexels via Pixabay.com

Celebrity Marketing as a Form of Entertainment

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Creating entertainment through advertisements increases consumers ability to connect with brands.

Brands strive for consumer attention. Simultaneously, consumers want to be entertained.

Consumers are blasted with advertisements day after day. In an effort to escape from a workaholic lifestyle, consumers embrace entertainment as an enjoyable distraction. As attention spans grow shorter and ad-blocking efforts grow stronger, brands have to find a way to push through the clutter and become memorable.

In order to do so, companies have to move from simply adding brand value to adding entertainment value. Not only should companies sponsor the brand content, but these brands need to be the entertainment.

This “don’t sell, entertain” mindset has gained momentum, especially as musical artists, television stars and athletes have joined the movement. Celebrity marketing content that is entertaining erases the idea that advertisements are purely promotional.

Below are a few brands who have successfully used celebrity marketing to execute this approach:

North Face

With the help of Spotify, North Face partnered with White Denim to take advertisements to a whole new level.

In an effort to promote North Face’s Apex Flex GTX rain jacket, Spotify released the first weather-triggered song. White Denim’s song, “No Nee Ta Slode Aln” was made available by Spotify only in U.S. regions receiving rainfall. Using ClimaTune, Spotify determined which markets to release the song.

In addition, “No Nee Ta Slode Aln” can be heard throughout the marketing campaign for North Face’s new rain jacket.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut partnered with Kristin Wiig for its “Everyman” campaign with a goal to showcase how hot and fresh pizza can be loved by all.

Wiig is featured in two TV advertisements playing a variety of characters, such as an older farmer, male cheerleader, business woman, and mechanic. Chief brand and concept officer of Pizza Hut, Jeff Fox, was quoted in AdWeek saying, “Wiig was a great fit for the role because of her versatility and her ability to play so many different characters – as shown seen in her time on Saturday Night Live.”

Channeling these various personas, Wiig uses her celebrity status to entertain viewers and also promote Pizza Hut as a brand for everyone.

Chase

For its “Battle of the Paddle” digital banking campaign, Chase partnered with not just one celebrity athlete, but two. NBA player Stephen Curry and professional tennis player Serena Williams go head-to-head in an impressive battle of ping pong to promote the convenience of Chase Quickpay.

Yet, before the commercial even launched, Chase created teaser content on various social media channels to encourage viewer interaction. The company gave viewers the choice of #TeamStephen or #TeamSerena to build hype and create social buzz.

The teaser content alone amassed three million video views across Instagram and Facebook.

Altogether, these three examples illustrate the power of celebrity marketing as a form of entertainment. Interrupting consumers with branded messages no longer works. Brands have to create entertainment and decide which celebrity can best enhance their message if they are going to connect with consumers.

photo credit: Al Ibrahim via Flickr

 

Celebrity Marketing and Esports Join Forces

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To promote brands and foster strong relationships with millennials, esports is the go-to industry to reach millennials.

To keep brands relevant in an age of overstimulated millennials glued to their screens, think gaming. While marketers use celebrities and digital influencers to reach consumers, they have overlooked one very important group of influencers: gamers.

The breakout industry, esports, has accumulated a large following thanks to these gamers. In fact, it was reported that gamers are the most followed influencers on YouTube, where three of the top five YouTubers are gamers.

With such a strong following, brands should utilize the reach of these gaming influencers as a way to attract more millennials.

Although esports originated in social media, it has pushed past its initial YouTube platform and jumped into major venues like Madison Square Garden and Key Arena, drawing in thousands of viewers and attendees.

As the gaming industry continues to grow in popularity, brands need to recognize the endless opportunities of partnering with gamers.

In pursuit of this fast-rising sport, a few brands have caught on to the gaming phenomenon.

For example, Snickers used the esports social platform creatively to reach their audience. Snickers partnered with three gamers with large social followings to transform its “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign into a live broadcast prank. Gamers began to play horribly because they were hungry, and the hungrier they became, the worse they played. It was not until they ate a Snickers bar that each gamer reverted back to their legendary gaming selves. The prank proved noteworthy as viewers went crazy with live-commenting throughout the prank.

Similarly, Coke was able to tap into the trend and feed fan excitement. Coke encouraged fans to get involved by handing out “cheer boards” for fans to write on during the gaming event. And if fans could not make the big event, Coke had a solution: host viewing parties. For instance, Coke created a nationwide viewing party of the League of Legends World Championship at L.A.’s Staples Center to over 200 movie screens across the United States.

Because esports is a developing platform, marketers must step outside their comfort zone. Risks are necessary, so take that risk by tapping into the powers of gaming influencers. In turn, brands will find success in reaching the much desired millennial consumer.

photo credit: Tobechi Ugwumba via Flickr