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.

photo credit: Ian Freimuth via Flickr

How to Reach Multiple Demographics with the Same Campaign through Influencer Marketing

GAP

Big brands have led the way in using a wide range of micro-influencers to reach a variety of consumers.

Having a single campaign activated across numerous influencers allows brands to access more than just the typical, narrow target market. Strategically using influencers that impact a variety of populations can allow campaigns to reach far beyond the usual scope.

Rather than using a large number of influencers who have followings with similar characteristics, brands can use influencers with extensively different backgrounds whose followings are diverse. This allows brands to use the same central campaign to connect with a larger sphere of people.

Here are a few brands who have successfully executed this approach.

Walmart

In spring 2017, Walmart launched its “Fight Hunger Spark Change” campaign in partnership with Feeding America. Their goal was as many donations as possible to secure meals for hungry Americans. Walmart used 7 influencers on Instagram to spread awareness for the cause and increase donations.

A charitable cause as broad as this one could be taken up by a massive array of people from all different backgrounds. Walmart mimicked this through their use of a mixture of influencers. From professional soccer player Sydney Leroux to YouTube personality and cook Rosanna Pansino to professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler, Walmart covered a broad spectrum of influencers.

The result was a huge engagement rate of 23% and raised $1.5 million.

Axe

Axe partnered with 30 male influencers for their “Find Your Magic”campaign with a goal to break the cycle of toxic masculinity and support men in destroying stereotypes and using hair products.

The Haircare VP of Unilever (the company that owns Axe), Piyush Jain, was quoted in AdWeek saying “this is the first time male influencers from all different walks of life are coming together to inspire guys to start styling.”

Amongst the 30 were actor Josh Peck, cooking channel star Josh Elkin and video gamer Joshua Ovenshire. With just these three celebrities, Axe was able to reach men with disparate interests by involving influencers with an assortment of personalities and fan bases who openly used Axe products on their social channels.

Gap

For their “Styld.by” campaign, Gap partnered with multiple prominent influencers across several categories. They enlisted photographers, writers, singers, models and bloggers amongst others, spanning different cultural backgrounds, races, genders and stages in life.

Each of these influencers posed for photos wearing Gap clothing mixed in with their own pieces showing how they incorporated the brand into their own styles.

The material was posted on several platforms, including Gap’s social channels, the influencers’ personal channels and the online community dedicated to the campaign.  

Using influencer marketing allows brands to extend their target market on a budget and/or create multiple campaigns.

photo credit: Mike Mozart 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

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

Campaigns with a Cause: How Celebrity Marketing Can Empower the Masses

Alive, Awake, Aware, Hands, Embrace, Holding, Being

From a progressive 21st century lens, it’s not “what” a brand is doing that sticks. What matters most is “why” a brand is doing so.

A well-polished brand is a promise to its following. When that promise is supported with strong social consciousness, a brand’s “why” becomes that much more appealing to those who trust their mission.

As brands increasingly become socially aware, it is important to understand the basics of Cause Related Marketing (CRM) and why the strategy is an all around winner for its four key players.

  1. The Charity
  2. The Brand
  3. The Perfect Celebrity
  4. The Consumer

CRM is a strategy used by organizations to boost revenue exchanges in both for-profit and nonprofit businesses. This philanthropic driven effort is ideal for charitable organizations because it boosts consumer awareness and provides a generous donation from the partnered brand. Many celebrities are interested in partnering with projects driven for the greater good of the world. Not only does it look good for these stars, but it feels good. When having the perfect celebrity signed for these projects, the conviction of the cause has the potential to skyrocket.

In honor of International Women’s Day this year, an A-List class of powerful women including Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon, and Gabby Douglas stirred incredible social media buzz for Tory Burch, calling all users to #EmbraceAmbition. Proceeds from Tory Burch sales are to go to her foundation, which is geared to empower future female entrepreneurs.

In 1994, MAC Cosmetics created their own charity, the MAC Aids Fund, where they promptly signed Rupaul as their first celebrity endorser. Over the next 22 years, the Viva Glam campaign has featured artists such as Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliot, Rihanna, and most recently Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett. The company continues to outperform itself annually, as Miley Cyrus brought Viva Glam to its incredible $400 million benchmark in 2015.

These celebrity driven CRM campaigns get their deserved recognition within the brand world as well. Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign featured ballerina Misty Copeland, making the brand one of the biggest winners at the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Today Under Armour controls 75% market share in athletic wear, and much of that is thanks to the empowerment that the brand instills in its user base.

The beauty of CRM is that it’s overwhelming positivity allows for its reach to span across brand types. This calls consumers of all ages, races, shapes, and sizes to use brands that they typically wouldn’t respond well to.

The push for clean water in developing nations is an issue in particular that multiple brands have taken into consideration. Unicef’s partnership with Selena Gomez and Matt Damon’s partnership with Stella Artois both broke boundaries that have called all users to take action to take part in helping the water crisis. The issue transcends multiple brands, charities, and viewer bases, driving immense amount of funds for one sole cause.

While the celebrity certainly gets the glory, these campaigns are made to empower the consumer. For these individuals, there is a sense of pride knowing that they are doing something for the better good, alongside the celebrity they adamantly trust.

photo credit: https://pixabay.com

Part II: 6 Digital Celebrities That Can Boost Your Brand Quickly Via Celebrity Marketing

When determining effective talent for a brand campaign, it’s crucial to review their overall relevance and likability.

As mentioned in Part I, as the industry continuously leans towards a niche approach, it’s important to realize that digital talent engages younger audiences in a way that lets a brand resonate in a uniquely relatable way.

Arguably the truest way a brand can resonate with an audience is through their funny bone.

While traditional ad campaigns thrive off planned ‘tongue-in-cheek’ and slapstick humor, digital celebrities produce impromptu comedy that is immediate and personal.

Here are the final three influencers from the 2016 Variety Magazine study that particularly use comedy to enhance their YouTube clout:

  • PewDiePie: Since August of 2013, Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie), has been the most followed YouTube account, only being surpassed once by YouTube’s Spotlight channel. The Swedish video game vlogger begins his videos with a high pitch, goofy voice making it seem as if every viewer is a close friend. His praise comes from the fact that he is genuine and unfiltered, which also drives controversy to his brand. While he may not always say the “right thing”, this vlogger speaks his mind on such an immensely influential platform, making him stand out as a truly new form of an artist.
  • Grace Helbig: This YouTuber has been an influential content creator since 2007 when she began YouTubing with her college roommate. Since then, Helbig has expanded her brand to podcasts, film, books, and television, where she created and starred in her own E! Network talk show. Marriott booked Helbig for a 2015 digital campaign for the brand’s direct booking service, calling for brand followers to “be more direct”. Helbig’s zany comedy chops offer an approach to viral storytelling that has an immediate appeal to young women.
  • King Bach : Andrew B. Bachelor, better known for his web alias King Bach, is most popular for his comedic Vine channel. Since the app’s downfall, Bach has transitioned from the 6-second platform to the big screen, stretching his 15.7 million fan base to multiple platforms. Bach uses parody to his advantage, having played Big Sean, Tupac Shakur, and Pharrell Williams in his short spoofs. Using these well known pop culture icons has allowed Bach to leverage his brand to unforeseeable levels. Bach has been used for several social media brand plugs, providing companies eyeballs that are increasingly difficult to reach via traditional means.

Comedy may not always be the answer for certain brands, but when trying to be direct with a young audience, it certainly presents itself as a viable option.

An authentic message is key, especially for Gen Z brand skeptics. Luckily for brands in the digital landscape, these six individuals are speaking their language.

photo credit: www.homeminterssante.com.br

2017 Oscars Delivered Social Media Spontaneity for Celebrity Marketing

Despite last-minute excitement Super Bowl LI and the 2017 Oscars displayed, it’s evident traditionally pinnacle television events are not strongly impacting young audiences.

With a 4% viewership drop from 2016, the 2017 Oscars experienced its third consecutive viewership decline, marking 32.9 million viewers as the second lowest Nielsen viewership since 1974. The ABC broadcast continued the trend of low millennial appeal, bringing a 9.1 rating in comparison to 2016’s 10.5 rating in the advertiser-friendly 18-49 demographic.

Ratings may not tell the show’s entire story. This year’s show accrued a reported $115 million in ad revenue, likely to be the most lucrative entertainment event all year.

Largely, this is thanks to socially relevant personalized messages and strong celebrity influence in key Oscar associated brands.

Host Jimmy Kimmel did an incredible job of appealing to a younger demographic using social media. Echoing Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe political stance, Kimmel effectively live-tweeted President Trump, including “#MerylSaysHi”. This unexpected political and celebrity interaction stirred over 1.37 million responses via Twitter. This interaction was instant and memorable.

Kimmel also added an experiential event by inviting a group of unsuspecting Hollywood tourists to the ceremony, nearly crashing Twitter with tweets about a goofy tourist from Chicago named Gary. Unanticipated events, when paired with the right social influencers, brought millennials and Gen Zers to brands surrounding the show.

The political message spots such as the New York Times’ “The Truth is Hard” or Hyatt’s “For A World of Understanding” mirrored the active social voice of the show very effectively. According to a Brandwatch report, peak social media mentions came at the time when social issues were discussed during Viola Davis and Gael Garcia’s speeches.

However, being political doesn’t always define brand success, nor does it have to.

For high end brands who align with the affluent viewer base of the Oscars, it is important to have a strong celebrity influence within the brand’s message. Rolex, the official sponsor of the 2017 ceremony, implemented an impressive array of Hollywood icons into their one-minute spot “Celebrating Cinema”. The one-minute spot coincidentally featured the late Bill Paxton, triggering an immense amount of unanticipated brand awareness. This surprise appearance created a flood of positive social media responses, proving that timely nostalgia is a powerful theme with the Oscar viewer base.

The traditional means in which showcase events appeal to their expansive viewer base is evolving. No longer can traditional television be the bottom line goal. As seen in the Super Bowl’s first ever live ad spot and the Oscar’s live-tweeting frenzy, younger audiences appreciate an experience above all else.

That personalized experience is truly memorable when spontaneity and celebrity influence can effortlessly combine.

photo credit: www.flickr.com