“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

Super Bowl & Celebrity Marketing Brands Told Gen Z’s Story, Not Their Own

Many brands that welcomed the $5 million sticker price of a 30-second spot in Super Bowl LI implemented the tactic of timely nostalgia.

That reminiscent undertone didn’t merely attempt to tell the brand’s story–it attempted to tell the story of “you” the viewer.

The “you” for certain Super Bowl brands has been Gen X and Millennials. Capitalizing off of their 2015 double-digit growth, Audi tactfully destined itself for success with the 60-second spot that featured the late David Bowie’s “Starman”. The Audi spot “Commander” directly appealed to those that yearned for the sense of promise they were born with and had the purchase power to act on that feeling.

However, for Super Bowl LI the “you” for Super Bowl brands, had changed.

The “you” is now Gen Z.

This year Audi continued with their platform of nostalgic storytelling by chronicling a little girl in a homemade go-kart. Considering Audi has no women on their executive team, this year’s spot intended to accentuate social and economic gender equality, a theme that Gen Z is very passionate about.

Having been born between 1996 and 2010, early Gen Zers’ youth was marked by exposure to the economic struggle of the Great Recession. These individuals possess a mental and financial shrewdness that is forcing traditional brands to work with experiential creative tactics to become loyal users.

In 2016, Wildness, an L.A based firm that informs brands on the habits of Gen Zers, reported that 27% of teen Gen Zers created and shared original videos via social media on a weekly basis. Of the 3,000 polled, 84% had reported that they’d had some direct contact with a celebrity on social media.

This attention craving group craved that same attention from their Super Bowl brands in 2017 and Snickers effectively recognized that.

With a $44 billion spending power in the USA alone, Gen Z is the richest and most independent purchase influencer on the market. While Gen Z may not be ready to buy a luxury sports car, they will definitely buy a candy bar.

Well known for its playful “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign, the Mars brand has featured authority figures, such as Betty White, Joe Pesci, and Willem Dafoe. In its first full year, the campaign reported a 15.9% global sales increase and growth in 56 of the 58 markets in which it ran. While their current influencers may be older, the Mars winning creative formula should translate to Gen Z.

  1. Create a more compelling creative platform, on a large scale.
  2. Make the brand “iconic” with strengthened internal engagement and commitment.
  3. Relentlessly enforce a global approach.

Snickers attempted to appeal to Gen Z with the Super Bowl’s first ever live ad spot. Featuring a youthful influencer in Adam Driver, Snickers embarked on unprecedented experiential creativity. This revolutionary ad ran in the first break of the game’s third quarter, immediately keeping the attention of Gen Zers who tuned in for the halftime performance.

Driver was upset by the mayhem of the ad’s scene, which sparked excessive viewer anger and confusion. However, the Snickers spot was revealed to be an intentional faux with a follow up Adam Driver apology, which provided an effective call-to-action for fans to avoid their own hunger mishaps.

Regardless, live video will be a brand’s best friend in 2017 to connect to Gen Z, ensuring that they truly understand the immediate connection that makes Gen Z thrive.

Live streaming is exposing a brand’s vulnerability in a playful way. That is what Gen Z is gravitating to; immediate action with a level of spontaneity that makes the brand story feel as if it is their own.

photo credit: www.flickr.com

Why Brands Should Use Twitch for Influencer Marketing

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One of the most up-and-coming websites is ripe for brands to seize competitive advantage.

Twitch is a video streaming platform where users can broadcast their gaming to the world, and is currently fourth in U.S. internet traffic, only trailing Netflix, Google and Apple. It has been a blossoming site since its launch in 2011, so much so that Amazon spent almost a billion dollars to acquire it in 2014. With 9.7 million active daily users and over 2 million unique streamers per month, there is no denying the reach Twitch has as a social network platform. Twitch has a huge growing audience and brands should take advantage of it, especially if they are looking to market to gamers and millennials.  It is interactive, uncut, live, and genuine, something that millennials crave from influencers.

One of the most straightforward ways brands can utilize is to hire a gamer for a sponsored stream. There are plenty of celebrities on Twitch from actors to athletes.  Twitch also has plenty of “Twitch famous” gamers with vast and loyal followings.  Gamers love the concept of playing a video game with one of their favorite celebrities. When sponsoring a gamer on Twitch, brands can broaden their audience because they are reaching the gaming community as well as the celebrity’s audience.

Another way to sponsor a stream is to have your brand logo on the stream and in the stream’s title. This option is a great opportunity for product placement in the gamer’s camera throughout the stream.  For example, Jack Link’s sponsored three gamers known to have lively outburst, so it aligned well with their “hangry” campaign. Also, a brand could create a special tag associated with the brand or product that would pop up when certain achievements or frustrating fails occur, such as sponsoring a big play in a game.

E-Sports are also a unique sponsorship opportunity for brands. E-Sports is like a professional league of tournaments for gamers, and has really taken off in recent years.  Brands can take advantage of the large viewership of this new phenomenon by sponsoring these big tournaments.  Twitch hosts these live tournaments on their site where people can watch and play, so brands can get online advertising as well as brand integration and real life advertising at the event.  For example, Totino’s hosted a Call of Duty tournament that averaged 30,000 live viewers and handed out pizza rolls to the fans at the tournament.

With Twitch, there are many opportunities for brands to sponsor celebrities, streams and tournaments in the gaming world. This unique streaming site allows for brands to reach a new audience, specifically male gaming millennials. Twitch is also currently working to expand their user demographic, branching out from gaming to include cooking, painting, beauty tutorials and more. This allows for a variety of opportunities for brands to take advantage of this growing platform and reach millennials in a new and exciting way with influencer marketing.

Photo credit: Flickr.com

Innovative Celebrity Marketing Uses of Athletes during the Olympics

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How Brands Cut Through the Clutter, and Made Their Olympic Spots Pop in the 2016 Rio Games

Nike and Under Armour posted and sponsored content leading up to and during the Olympics that caught the audience’s attention and created excitement. Using relatable story-telling, captivating visuals and utilizing non-Olympic athletes made their ads shine during the Rio Games.

Nike has always been known for their visual story-telling and airing their advertising at the most opportune time to pull on the audiences emotions.  This year in Rio was no different for Nike when they aired and posted origin stories of some of their top athletes.  The best example of this is a spot featuring Simone Biles, the star of the United States Women’s gymnastics team.  The video was thoughtfully planned out before the games showing Simone training for Rio and clips from her younger days, while her mother spoke about Simone’s journey to gymnastics greatness.

Nike got one of the most popular artists right now Chance The Rapper to write a song and star in a USA Basketball promotion.  The lyrics are inspiring, incorporating the U.S. National Anthem and Constitution, along with delivering a message of togetherness and unity, not only as a basketball team but as a country.  The video displays all of Nike’s basketball athletes, and projects them on houses and buildings in a city.  This visual really gives you a sense of “home” while pulling on the audience’s patriotism, especially when it airs and is posted right after Team USA just won gold in basketball.

Nike also highlighted their athletes on social media with short pre-recorded GIF’s, posting them to twitter while the athletes were competing.  These short videos were very aesthetically appealing to the eye, and featured Nike’s famous tagline, Just Do It.  These visuals were great at standing out on crowded social media news feed, and generating buzz because you were currently seeing the athlete on TV.

Under Armour (UA) had to think outside the box to create social media content due to the new IOC’s Rule 40.  One way they accomplished this was UA basketball star Steph Curry tweeting about fellow UA team member Michael Phelps on twitter to his 6.7 million followers.  He tweeted out emoji’s representing Phelps dominance in the pool with the Phelps Olympic hype video, and UA’s notable tagline “IWILL” which gained a lot of social traction.

Another innovative way Under Armour created content was with Anthony Joshua, a boxer on their team of athletes.  Joshua, current professional heavyweight, won the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, and was in Rio as a spectator at this Olympics.  UA live streamed an Anthony Joshua beach workout on their Facebook page, along with live posting his workout on their Snapchat story.  They kept the Olympic theme as he was in Brazil and used Rio Snapchat geo-filters without any copyright infringement, as well as echoing their message of discipline and fitness.

Photo Credit: photopin.com

Deceased Celebrity Marketing

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Even after death, a celebrity’s brand remains powerful, and potentially becomes even more so.

Because of this, there is often a desire for brands to capitalize on the death of a celebrity in advertising. However, there are some pros and cons. The use of a deceased celebrity’s image and likeness in marketing can be a topic of controversy. While some campaigns perform well, others draw backlash. When considering using a deceased celebrity for a marketing campaign, there are a number of things to think about.

One advantage to using a deceased celebrity is not only that the celebrity will be widely recognized, but celebrities often become romanticized icons in the public eye after their death. Brands using deceased celebrities are able to align themselves with the pedigree of these iconic figures, and have much more positive publicity. A static figure is much more dependable than a current celebrity, and cannot cause problems for the campaign with scandals and sudden negative image. Ultimately, this allows the brand to have more control over the campaign.

Although a brand may want to use a deceased celebrity for a campaign and there are many reasons why it may be a good fit, this is not always the case. Deceased celebrities do not always work with a brand’s target audience. For example, Marilyn Monroe may be a style icon and an appropriate match for a beauty brand, but if the brand’s audience is younger, a relevant celebrity may be a better fit. Plus, getting the rights to a deceased celebrity’s image and likeness is not always easy. Those in charge of the celebrity’s estate may be similarly as challenging to negotiate with as a current celebrity.

Ultimately, if you want to have a successful campaign with a deceased celebrity, be sure the partnership is a strong fit with your target audience. Using a resource such as E-Poll provides piece of mind and a level of certainty. Attributes such as trust, likeability and name recognition can be isolated. You could even commission your own custom poll using great detail. Not only should the celebrity fit with your brand’s image, but you should also make sure the campaign is respectful and fits with the celebrity’s image.

Just like any other celebrity marketing campaign, you must go through all the steps to determine the best celebrity for your brand. The connection between the celebrity, the brand and the creative direction of the campaign must be strong enough for the celebrity to be credible and differentiate your message from the thousands of others we get bombarded with every day.

Photo credit: youtube.com (Disclaimer: Mazda is a Burns client)

Relaxed Regulations Open the Door for All Brands to Win Gold

For the first time, athletes may appear in the ads of nonofficial sponsors during the Olympic Games.

In a massive win for athletes hoping to score as many endorsement deals as possible, the International Olympic Committee decided to permit the involvement of nonofficial sponsors – as long as the ad does not include any references to the Games.

The athletes, however, are far from the only beneficiaries of the new rules. Countless brands that missed or declined the opportunity to gain official status now have the freedom to participate actively in the event.

They do not need to sit on the sidelines and brainstorm clever tweets to attract attention. Instead, the limitations on brands are minimal and only come down to language. They cannot use the words “Olympic” or “Olympiad,” or phrases such as “Gold,” “Games,” “Victory,” or “Rio de Janeiro” in order to imply a relation between the brand and the Games.

Regardless, this is a victory for advertisers everywhere. For 17 days, the biggest stars on the planet will be the very athletes putting everything they’ve got on the line to win, and no longer is their potential limited. The millions that the luckiest among them will make, however, will still pale in comparison to the brands themselves.

The official sponsors of the Games are no longer safe from the threat of their competitors. Under Armour, whose fiercest competitor Nike is among the official sponsors, now plans to run its recently launched global campaign through the Games in August. Their campaign highlights the US women’s gymnastics team, which consistently ranks among the most popular aspects of the Olympics.

Though the new rule is a major blow for the official sponsors, it is a few years in the making. During the 2012 Olympics, a number of athletes demanded the freedom to promote brands they already represent.

As the advertising world continues to advance at a record pace, the potential for all brands to promote successful campaigns is limitless. Their future is in their own hands, and the gold medal is free for the taking.

Photo Credit: www.wikipedia.org

The Potential Profits of March Madness: How Advertisers are Using Celebrities to Win Big

marchmadness_bg3-1024x616With 67 games aired on national TV, the NCAA has only just begun to rake in the cash.

It is not the simplest task to become ingrained in popular culture, but the minds behind the NCAA Tournament have masterfully made it appear so.

Since they first aired on TV in 1969, the post-season college basketball games have grown in popularity, though it wasn’t until CBS partnered with Turner in 2011 that the tournament exploded in profitability. Between CBS and Turner’s channels, all 67 of the games air nationally. That translates directly to a huge bump in revenue.

Today, March Madness reigns only behind the Super Bowl among the biggest annual sports events. There are no prerequisites for participation – anyone can create a bracket, and as many as 60 million Americans do.

Viewership numbers are nowhere near that of the Super Bowl, but they don’t need to be. Last year’s championship game was watched by a record 28.3 million people. This was more than both the last game of the 2015 NBA Finals and the 2016 College Football Championship. In all three cases annual viewership is on the rise, but nothing compares to the revenue gains March Madness has seen.

With Turner Sports preparing to broadcast the Final Four games in virtual reality and total ad revenue expected to rise as high as $1.3 billion, the future of the tournament is incredibly bright.

As is always the case, this future does lie in the hands of the advertisers, but with growing numbers of eyeballs gluing themselves to the TV and related mobile content, the advertisers too are arriving in droves.

Perennial sponsorship partners and this year’s official NCAA corporate champions, AT&T, Capital One, and Coca-Cola, have all returned with tens of millions to spend, but it is the ads featuring basketball stars that get the most bang for their buck.

From AT&T’s commercial featuring Kenny Smith to NCAA’s own ad starring Charles Barkley, wise decisions were made to attract the most attention. Capital One scored big with a string of commercials starring Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, and Charles Barkley too, and even Lowe’s called on Coach John Thompson III for a comedic spot. Buick hired actor Brad Schmidt for their commercial, which also introduced a special deal they are offering during March Madness. Budweiser even adapted their Super Bowl ad to air one dedicated to the tournament, pairing it with a song by Baauer.

Those who made the wise choice to highlight celebrities in their ads will reap the benefits this year, but with ample proof for the direction they should take, it’s up to next year’s advertisers to follow the trend.

The fans watch the games to see the amateurs perform their best, but it’s the trusted, beloved celebrities that remain constant throughout the tournament. The more companies tap into their potential, the more front and center the advertisements will be.

photo credit: www.brianhartz.com