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)

 

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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 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 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

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

Celebrity Marketing: How Authentic Brand Engagement Can Turn Baseball Icons into Baseball Buddies

Following record shattering ratings in the 2016 World Series and 2017 World Baseball Classic, baseball is proving why it is “America’s Pastime”.

Despite the heroics of those two events, Major League Baseball faces the issue of skewing to an older demographic. According to Nielsen ratings, 50% of baseball fans are 55 or older. Additionally, those ages 18-34 are 14 percent less likely to report a strong interest in baseball.

However, MLB Opening Week attendance revealed a modest increase from 2016, and that is largely thanks to baseball’s latest initiative to appeal to a younger demographic.

The new 60-second spot “This Season on Baseball” positions the 2017 MLB season as an ongoing reality TV show, diving into the personas of baseball’s hottest young talent. Whether it’s Bryce Harper taking an ice bath or the Mets’ fireballers at dinner, the message is that these icons are real people. The creative is fresh, showing viewers that baseball and its stud stars are spontaneous: which is exactly what young fans demand.

Avid sports fans crave any interaction with their favorite superstars, whether it be as big as an autograph or simply favoriting their tweets.

Along with exotic ballpark menu items, teams have even incorporated VR elements to their stadiums this season, paving the way for unparalleled fan engagement, ultimately bringing a younger crowd into the seats. Fenway Park has added a VR batting cage in their Kids Concourse, where young fans can take a crack at facing their favorite Major Leaguers.

Not only is the MLB virtually connecting to their fan base, but now they are interacting in real-time in a whole new way via social media.

The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) has just released their own social media app called Infield Chatter, designed to provide baseball fans with ultimate player interaction. Unlike other social media platforms, Infield Chatter is designed strictly for players and fans to share pictures, video, and text to their in-app feeds.

While this innovative approach to fan connection doesn’t exactly stretch MLB’s brand appeal to new audiences, it certainly enhances the experience of the most avid followers. The app is still very much in its primitive stages, but has all the makings to generate enough buzz to raise some eyebrows across the entire sports world.

Nearly 1,000 major and minor league players are on the app, including superstars Evan Longoria, Miguel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes and NL MVP Kris Bryant. While MLB itself has yet to partner with the app, the MLBPA believes that the only way to truly bring viewers to the MLB brand is to have a conversation with them.

What’s key is that these MLB players aren’t talking at the fans. They’re talking with the fans.

This level of intimacy provides a whole new level of brand appreciation and attachment, which should ultimately translate to cross-generation appeal.

photo credit: www.staticflickr.com

“Celebrity, Meet Influencer”: Now is the Time to Diversify Your Celebrity Endorsement Approach

There is an intangible quality to on-screen chemistry, plain and simple. For brands that aren’t niche, it is “go time” to find that dynamic celebrity-influencer duo.

It is certain that digital influencers are the future for brands striving to appeal to a younger demographic. However, for brands that are not exactly niche to today’s youthful consumer, it is important to recognize the available talent pool at both ends of the spectrum.

In the digital age, audiences are expanding for these broad-appeal brands, meaning the influencer-celebrity relationship may be the brand’s newest best friend.

Brita, dominating 70% of the filter pitcher market in the U.S, traditionally promotes a family centric theme. While the filter company may be tops in its own category, they have done an incredible job leveraging their appeal via celebrity endorsement. After signing basketball star Stephen Curry in 2015, their appeal expanded to the inner athlete in everyone.

Flash forward to 2017, and Brita has paired Steph Curry with digital comedy sensation, King Bach. The new creative produced by Brita posed a traditional dilemma: an empty pitcher in the fridge. With the power couple of Curry and Bach, the creative shifted focus onto the perfect roommate relationship, translating their comedic pairing into nearly one million YouTube views in less than a week. With Bach’s digital clout and Curry’s universal appeal, the audience for Brita stretched to incredible new heights.

Another industry finding success with celebrity-influencer teams is right in the talent’s wheelhouse; the film industry. The pairing of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and influencer Logan Paul for the promotion of the film Baywatch expanded the film’s brand immensely through reliance on user generated content (UGC).

In order to maintain the momentum of a successful campaign mantra, powerhouse brands lean their focus towards the viewer’s voice. UGC is any web content created by fans, functioning as free promotion for the brand. This online word-of-mouth is the best type of referral, as 86% of millennials say UGC is a good indicator of brand quality.

Johnson recently created his own production company Seven Bucks Studios, the mission being to create innovative and authentic content for its audience. As media consumers become increasingly skeptical of brand messaging, it is key that Johnson recognized authenticity as the arch of a successful message.

Fortunately for Paramount Pictures, Johnson and Logan Paul combined to drive unprecedented traffic to their brand by calling users to #BeBaywatch. Their three million plus views on YouTube caused the hashtag to instantly flood Twitter and Instagram, showing that users have power to spread a brand’s message like no other. Ultimately, the comedic, tension-filled relationship between the two made the film that much more relatable and appealing to multiple audiences.

It is certain that brands cannot appeal to everyone. However, when a brand can incorporate an array of talent that falls on both ends of the celebrity-influencer spectrum, the opportunity for brand growth is evident.

photo credit: www.premiermeetings.com