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

“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

Pop-Up Events Driven by Celebrity Marketing Create Unique Brand Experiences

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The fear of missing out in today’s social media age is greater than ever, and companies are capitalizing on this trend by using short-lived events.

Pop-up events are short-lived experiences that connect people together, and a celebrity can help take it to the next level.

The goal of a pop-up event is to create an experience that is unique and exclusive. This creates urgency for the audience, encouraging them to take part because if they miss it, it will be gone forever.

Hosting a pop-up event builds excitement and urgency around your brand in three important ways. Incorporating a celebrity helps increase interest and audience reach, creating a more unique and memorable experience.

1. Increase audience reach

Most pop-up shops or events gain momentum from social media, and celebrities’ big and loyal followings can help promote the event, garner social interactions and ultimately bring more awareness to the experience.

Celebrities bring their followers to everything they do, which brings the potential for your brand’s social following and interactions to increase as well. A good execution of a brand boosting their awareness and reach is when Adidas got Pharrell to live stream the launch event of his own Adidas Originals line to the brand’s Snapchat channel.

Adidas gave fans an inside look at the event through Pharrell’s perspective, along with showing off the new Adidas products. The brand’s Snapchat following boomed, and in 24 hours the story garnered 3.4 million views and 4,000 screenshots that people later went and shared on their social accounts.

2. Boost brand image

Partnering with a celebrity for a pop-up event could also create interest and boost brand image. There might be people who aren’t familiar with your brand or products, but when the partnered celebrity brings their audience, the chance of their fans checking out the brand increases.

A great example is when Samsung partnered with Kanye West and Jay-Z for a secret show at South by Southwest. In order to get tickets to the show, fans had to own a Samsung Galaxy phone. Samsung’s traffic to their tent at the festival increased, as well as the buzz around the brand, all because people were excited about the concert with Kanye and Jay-Z.

3. Create a more unique experience

Including a celebrity at your brand’s pop-up event can also make the experience and atmosphere more memorable for the audience. People want to be a part of something special and unique that they can tell their friends about and post to their social feeds.

Events could include a meet-and-greet with the celebrity for a quick chat and photo session. Also, selling a unique product or giving away a memento at the event could further increase the urgency and experience.

Angry Birds and YouTube teamed up with YouTube star Rosanna Pansino for a pop-up bake shop in New York City. Rosanna created and gave away special Angry Birds-themed cupcakes as they introduced a new character, as well as decorating the bake shop with her style intertwined with Angry Birds and YouTube. She also greeted and took pictures with fans as they left the shop, creating a special memory for those who attended.

Brands are using pop-up events to grab attention, build awareness and create buzz more than ever before. Could a pop-up event be in your brand’s future?

Photo credit: Google

Resources for Celebrity Marketing: Part One

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The Burns Celebrity Vault is a one-of-a-kind resource that makes the celebrity selection process simpler, easier and more efficient.

When it comes to picking a celebrity for a marketing campaign, the process is not simple. When finding the right celebrity match, a brand must take into consideration things such as cost, celebrity interest, conflicts and many other factors. In order to find the right celebrity, you need a resource that takes all these factors into consideration, and still provides great celebrity options. That’s where the Celebrity Vault comes in. The Celebrity Vault is a state-of-the-art database that has accumulated information on over 25,000 different celebrities from all ends of the spectrum for over 40 years, which makes for a much easier, faster and better celebrity selection process.

The Celebrity Vault contains celebrities from sports, entertainment, music and more. In this case, a “celebrity” is not just the people you always see or immediately think of, but rather anyone who is well-known or has consistently been in the news. This wide definition of a celebrity allows you to find any type of celebrity you could possibly need or want, not just the most obvious ones. Celebrities are then segmented by type such as actors, athletes, age and gender. The exceptional variety of celebrities in the Celebrity Vault means there are plenty of celebrity options for any campaign or budget.

Celebrities are then further categorized by over 700 lifestyle demographics. These demographics can include any type of interesting fact about a celebrity, not just the information you know off-hand. The Celebrity Vault includes the information you would typically ignore, forget or be unaware of, like whether a celebrity collects classic cars, had colon cancer or owns dogs. Whether it is interests, hobbies, charitable ties or health conditions, these lifestyle demographics allow for a much faster and better selection process.

The Celebrity Vault also includes the likely costs of celebrities for TV appearances, speaking engagements and other endorsement opportunities, which allows you to find celebrity options within your budget. No matter your budget, you will likely be able to find a pool of realistic celebrities for your campaign.

The Celebrity Vault is extremely helpful for brand marketers because it can help find a celebrity for even the most narrowly-defined marketing strategies. It makes the process quicker, easier and better for finding the perfect celebrity match for a brand. The wide variety of celebrity options, segmented by over 700 lifestyle demographics, makes sure not to overlook your options when finding the right celebrity.

Travel Bloggers May Be the Next Big Thing for Celebrity Marketing

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Travel bloggers offer a unique way for brands to reach new consumers.

A travel blogger’s posts provide authentic content and are a good way for brands to integrate themselves into a trip or lifestyle. This way, a brand can advertise an experience rather than just a product, and it can be done in an entertaining and exciting way that is attractive to an audience.

Travel writing has been around for decades, but with technology and social media, travel bloggers have a unique edge that makes them much more desirable for brands. Bloggers are often proven influencers who have access to fans on social media and know how to tell a strategic story on social platforms. When hiring a familiar travel blogger, a brand is able to get in front of a large audience through a storyteller that the audience trusts, in a way that is easily shared and delivers engagement.

But a travel blogger’s audience isn’t the only thing that is attractive to brands. A travel blogger’s content is also unique, uploading posts and photos consistently and in real-time. This type of bite-sized content provides an experiential element to branded content, that when matched with an authentic celebrity partnership creates a personable and fun experience for consumers. Travel blogging is becoming increasingly more popular, with bloggers covering a wide range of niche markets.

For example, Breanne Manz, creator of Stroller in the City, has a demographic that many brands want to reach: moms who travel with kids. Her 19,000 Twitter followers and 27,000 Instagram fans enjoy seeing photos of her and her kids visiting new places and trying new things, all of which she writes about in her blog.

Clint Johnson, also known as Trip Hackr, travels all around the world while working with brands, tourism boards and even airlines to promote products and run contests to his 50,000 Instagram followers, who enjoy reading about his tips and tricks for interesting travel destinations.

Matthew Kepnes goes by Nomadic Matt on his blog, where he often writes about ways to travel on a budget and all the ways you can save money while experiencing the world.

Louis Cole, known as FunForLouis on YouTube, documents his travels with daily video blogs to his 1.8 million subscribers. His engaging personality and desire for adventure make his videos a unique experience for his audience.

Travel blogging is becoming increasingly popular, especially for brands looking for more immediate, widely-shared storytelling.

Photo credit: Unsplash.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)

Authenticity in Celebrity Marketing

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Authenticity is usually the most important part of content, especially for younger generations.

At a time when most of what we see on social media is idealized, millennials believe advertising is unrealistic.  Because of this, 43% of millennials value authenticity over content. When it comes to advertising, consumers want to hear from the people they trust, and they trust people more than logos. Celebrity marketing is one of the best ways to be authentic – as long as it’s done correctly.

When looking for a celebrity for your marketing campaign, it’s important to find someone who loves your brand. But you don’t necessarily have to go for the most obvious choice. Just because you are a food company doesn’t mean you need to partner with a chef. Sometimes a message coming from an unexpected source is a smart way to be more authentic and create a stronger, more lasting campaign. Plus, you can be sure the celebrity really loves your product if they are willing to venture away from what his/her audience expects.

Just the act of including a celebrity in your campaign doesn’t necessarily create authenticity. When working with a celebrity, it’s important to give up some control and let the celebrity have an opportunity to tell your brand’s story. Your brand doesn’t want to mess with trust and credibility, and neither does the celebrity. It’s almost as important to maintain the celebrity’s brand as it is yours, so it’s best to equip the celebrity with the right information, and let them craft the message using their own words. That way, the message sounds more authentic to the celebrity’s audience because it is coming from someone they trust.

Once you find the perfect celebrity, building a relationship and having honest exchanges is the best way to create a more authentic message. Finding out how your brand fits into the celebrity’s lifestyle and using that information adds more value to the campaign. People think of their favorite celebrities as their friends, and they know the celebrity well enough to recognize when a message is contrived. Having a good relationship with a celebrity and using their genuine opinion is one of the best ways to ensure an authentic message.

Working with a celebrity is a great way to make a marketing campaign feel authentic, because their audience already trusts what they have to say.  When partnering with a celebrity, it’s important to find a balance. Your brand needs to remain the star while the trustworthy celebrity delivers your message, making it stand out from the clutter. By creating a good relationship and collaborating on the campaign, your marketing efforts are much more likely to feel authentic to an audience, especially young ones.

Photo credit: Google images (Disclosure: Old El Paso is a Burns client)