How Brands Use Influencers & Celebrity Marketing to Appeal to Gen Z

The right celebrity will forever remain an authority figure for a brand’s audience.

When the lifestyle of a celebrity ties in well with a brand, it is very simple for the average consumer to trust a brand and its message delivered by a celebrity.

Brands have been able to thrive off of millennial engagement via traditional celebrity endorsement, whether that is with a sports icon or Hollywood starlet. However, as millennials age, the focus shifts to what appeals to Generation Z: those born between 1996 and 2010.

The current 2 billion that make up Gen Z (27% of the world’s population) are the first to grow up with the internet at their fingertips. These are the individuals that trust the everyday person on social media, rather than the apparent celebrity appearance.

With an average attention span of 8 seconds, Gen Z craves transparency and instant connection to a brand. That is a large reason why Snapchat and Instagram have their highest usage from that age category.

Here are three simple influencer marketing tips to help brands thrive:

  1. Use short video clips

With Snapchat and the recent roll out of Instagram Live, it is simple for an influencer to send out a brief message to their following on a very personal level. With a brief, yet impactful influencer video, your brand can tap into an audience that will respond and trust your message.

Social media influencer Logan Paul has provided brands such as Doritos, Dunkin Donuts, Nike, and Verizon all immense success due to short video blasts. His message is concise, exciting, and immediately grabs the audience’s attention without having to stop for brand recognition. Brand recognition becomes instantaneous, because the videos are lively and provide a direct viewer appeal.

Visual content will always remain more appealing than simple text, especially with Gen Z.

  1. Ensure your brands message aligns with influencer personality

Unlike any other portion of social media users, Gen Z has an innate desire for a personalized experience with a brand. That is why the influencer market is so vast. Young people can immediately associate an influencer with an experience they have had or desire to accomplish.

Therefore, your brand’s message must directly align with the influencer chosen. The influencer doesn’t have to be colossal to have peak brand appeal. Micro-influencers, or those who have a niche in the influencer market, will play an integral role for developing brands in 2017.

These individuals are cheap, can instill immediate trust with Gen Z, and can successfully reinforce the niche appeal of certain brands. When a micro-influencer’s niche can match that of a brand, success is imminent.

  1. Store creative trust in the influencer

An influencer is an influencer for a reason. They either have an interesting quirk, style, or persona that appeals to a massive social audience. Brands will have to relinquish a lot of creative control and allow the influencer to take over.

It may be daunting for creatives to accept, but it’s a reality of influencer marketing. After all, it is the creativity of the influencer that granted their widespread appeal and the brand’s interest in the first place.

The more a brand trusts its influencer, the more the consumer will trust the given brand.

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Use Celebrity Marketing to Breathe New Life Into a Brand

Revitalizing Brands PictureCelebrities increase brand awareness, jump start flat sales, and convey key messages to target markets for mature brands.

Product Introduction Ranked In Top 2 Percent Increased Brand Awareness.

Over twenty years ago, ConAgra’s Healthy Choice line of products made a splash in the frozen food arena, proclaimed by Advertising Age as, “the most successful new food brand introduction in two decades.”

Jump to 2008, and the buzz for Healthy Choice had simmered down. Joan Chow, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at ConAgra, wanted to reinvigorate Healthy Choice by, “breaking through the fog of familiarity consumers have with the brand”.

To do this, Chow hired a celebrity to re-launch with new packaging and entrees in a comedic way, using a multimedia budget of around $90 million dollars. ConAgra secured Julia Louis-Dreyfus for their advertisements.

In the first year, sales reached $95 million dollars. Over the next five years, Healthy Choice Café Steamers ranked in the top 2 percent of all successful product introductions. Information Resources Inc. named Healthy Choice the, “best selling new food or beverage product through mid-year 2008”.

Increased Flat Sales by $77 Million.

The Illinois Lottery experienced nearly a decade of flat sales, with a total sales growth of negative 3.1%.

The lottery launched a strategy focused on reenergizing itself through the execution of a marketing plan that would generate immediate sales increases. To do this, they searched for a celebrity whose personality was consistent with the new ‘Have a Ball!’ campaign, and matched these criteria:

  • Credible
  • Widely recognizable
  • Ongoing high visibility
  • Fun-loving and “fun to be around”
  • Strong and proudly displayed roots in Illinois
  • Viewed as likeable by a broad cross-section of potential players
  • No negative baggage or reputation issues

Bernie Mac, born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, was the perfect candidate. His participation in the new campaign boosted total sales almost 8% within a year (increasing sales by $77,728,500) hitting record numbers for the $10 instant-ticket.

The total cost for Mr. Mac’s role in the 30th Anniversary Have a Ball! campaign was approximately $500,000 dollars, bringing a significant return back on the investment.

Convey Key Messages to the Target Market & Sales Increased 16%.

Burberry, the high-end luxury garment maker, experienced an image problem, and needed to reclaim their brand equity. Delinquent soccer fans began wearing Burberry clothing, creating negative connotations for the brands famous designs.

Creative Director Christopher Bailey solved this problem by shaking up their catalog with more modern designs, limiting the checkered tartan, and aligning the brand with classy figures like Emma Watson and Kate Moss.

With confidence restored in Burberry, sales immediately began to increase. In fact, the luxury brand’s revenues have risen by an average of 16% over the last three years.

photo credits:
MyCanon (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) via Wikimedia Commons
J. Corey Griffin via Wikimedia Commons
By David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons

Know What to Expect When Hiring In-Season Athletes for Celebrity Marketing

In Season Athlete PictureTo build awareness quickly for a campaign, consider an in-season athlete.

In-season athletes are valuable to brands. The opportunity exists to advertise and execute a campaign when current athletes play and their recognition level is at a peak.

If you can work with a few limitations, hiring an in-season athlete can benefit your brand.

Here is a five point checklist for hiring in-season athletes:

Plan Far in Advance When Scheduling.

Brands tend to focus on the athlete’s game schedule rather than the entire schedule.

Professional athletes, regardless of sport, are always on the go. Their days are long, schedules hectic, and have limited time off to work for a brand. If you want to hire an athlete in-season, examine his/her schedule well in advance to be sure availability fits the campaign’s schedule.

When scheduling, avoid the post season altogether. Most teams do not allow players to work events or do commercials during this period. Even if the team doesn’t have a policy, a PR event with an athlete who could otherwise be practicing for an important game looks bad for the athlete, team, and the brand.

Long Days Won’t Work.

Professional athletes are the best for a reason; they are constantly practicing their craft. This is good for teams and bad for brands. Availability tends to be later in the day after practice, where energy levels are lower and less number of hours available.

To combat this, brands should plan on using and/or shooting shorter hours spread over a few days. Instead of one 12-hour day, schedule two six-hour days instead.

Be flexible with your schedule. On occasion, a mandatory practice or physical therapy session comes up outside of the athlete’s control leaving brands to adjust.

An Athlete’s Career is The #1 Priority.

An athlete’s livelihood and loyalty revolves around the current contract—all else is secondary.

In the prime of their careers, a brand’s compensation is a welcome source of supplemental income and a nice bonus. It won’t buy leverage to alter an athlete’s schedule.

Brands Need to Schedule Work and Shoot Days Where the Athlete is.

Athletes want to be a good partner. Yet, they cannot be expected to travel where the brand wants to shoot. Their schedule won’t permit it, or they may be contractually obligated to travel with their team.

A brand should anticipate shooting wherever the athlete resides. The logistics of the production can be more complex and expensive, but worth the investment.

There are Always Options.

An in-season athlete’s availability may be too onerous. If so, finding the right recently retired player, ex-player now commentator, or sports television personality who has more flexibility will impact your target audience as much.

Celebrity Marketing: Social Media Campaigns Beyond Twitter and Facebook


Brand marketers have long relied on celebrity social media campaigns to help engage and grow the brand’s audience via Twitter and Facebook.

As the social media landscape rapidly evolves, brands are finding some successes with some of the newer social channels such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.

Here are a few suggestions for including them in your celebrity marketing mix:


With over one billion photos uploaded by users around the world, brands have identified Instagram as an effective marketing tool that can be easily shared across all of your social media platforms.

“Instagram photos” have a distinct look that seem to ignite an emotional connection and offer followers a peek into your brand’s personality.

While brands create their own Instagram presence, they take to celebrities to help them grow awareness and engage a larger audience.

Celebrity Campaign Example:

Photo Contest: Have the celebrity “take over” your brand’s Instagram account to host a contest. Assign the contest a hashtag (#) asking people to join by submitting photos within the contest guidelines (theme).

Reward Participants: Offer a discount code to purchase your product for those who participate in your celebrity photo contest or for those who comment and like the celebrity endorsed photos.


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then use a picture to tell your brand’s story.

Though still considered an under-utilized and untapped branding forum, marketers have taken note that Pinterest boards are actually story boards and the people creating them are the storytellers.

Brands recognize the value of this social media tool and how it can uniquely showcase the lifestyle of their brand.

  • Pinning relevant and powerful images will keep your audience interested
  • Pinning behind the scene images from around your office and of your team members will humanize your brand with your audience
  • Featuring a celebrity will help expand and engage your audience
  • Pinning a promoted video creates a unique opportunity to drive higher performance.

Celebrity Guest-Board Examples:

Fashion brand: Partner with a stylish celebrity to create a board that will feature him/her offering outfit ideas and ensembles using key pieces from the brand’s collection.

Food Brand: Partner with a celebrity chef who will feature various recipes utilizing the brand’s product as their key ingredient.


With its abundance of story sharing, Snapchat gives each user the power of a social media influencer. Snapchat is a social media platform that allows its users to create a 10 second image or video, which then erases following the recipient’s viewing. When done correctly, these very short clips can go viral and reach a huge audience almost immediately.

Brand marketers have quickly realized what a huge asset Snapchat videos can be to their brand’s celebrity marketing campaigns and are utilizing them to build excitement by creatively teasing the public with a very brief sneak peek of what is to come.

Examples of how Brands are using Snapchat:

Discovery: When using the Discover feature on Snapchat, a brand can enter the flow of a user’s viewing with a brief 3-5 second clip. These Discover channels include People, Vogue, ESPN, all having celebrity news that brands can associate themselves with.

One of Snapchat’s strengths is that it provides a more personal and casual look into the life of a celebrity as well as the partnership with the brand they are connected to.

photo credit: Bob Ramsak via photopin cc

10 Ways to Protect Your Celebrity Marketing Investment


You can control a number of factors which dramatically increase the success of a celebrity endorsement and eliminate risks.

I’ve worked with brands who get ahead of themselves locking in on one or more celebrities too early in the selection process. They often skip important steps in making their selection. Doing this costs your company time, money and your results will fall short of expectations.

Here are ten steps ranked in order, for finding the best celebrity, getting the most value for your marketing dollar and eliminating risks:

1. Start Broad

Identify 1-2 ideal celebrities regardless of cost. This is the starting point and opens the discussion. Then, brainstorm and expand your list to 10-50 celebrities. Look to entertainment, sports, music and even deceased celebrities. You’ll be able to whittle down options quickly to a shorter list as you progress through these steps.

2.  Conduct Quantitative Research

An in-depth research project is used on occasion when there is a very large celebrity use planned. The bigger the campaign, the more likely you should consider this approach. This type of research can cost $10,000 or more with an outside research firm. An online consumer panel is often used to run ideas past the target audience at a lower cost.

3. Conduct Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is usually led by an internal consumer market group with the brand team involved. This could involve an outside firm as well. A qualitative focus group can cost $7,500-$15,000.

4. Screen Celebrities for Conflicts

This step is often ignored but the easiest to do. A simple google search such as “George Clooney endorsements”, will yield helpful information. Several websites do a good job compiling celebrity endorsement deals such as Celebrity Endorsement Ads. Double check with the celebrity agent to assure that you have category exclusivity.

5. Know Their Willingness to Promote Your Brand

Some celebrities enjoy PR days and social media while others do not. Make sure your celebrity choices are open to the services you need and like to be in those situations.

6. Estimate the Cost

Now that you have thought through the type of celebrity you are looking for, don’t waste time on ones too expensive for your budget. Think through the services you need (Ad, PR, social, digital etc.) and compare prices. Similar celebrities often have widely different costs so shop around. There’s probably one celebrity that clearly has greater value among your list of finalists.

7. Use Metrics to Help Identify the Best Celebrity

I see brands rely on their gut instincts too much with mixed results. Use a resource such as E-Score to help select the best celebrity candidate. E-Score offers an in-depth look at the key drivers of each celebrity’s appeal.

I recommend E-Score because it uses 46 attribute ratings for celebrity appeal and  multiple demographic breaks to identify how a celebrity is trending and compares to other celebrities.

8. Research Other Celebrity Marketing Campaigns

Study other advertising and marketing campaigns the celebrities on your short list have done. How were they used? How successful was the campaign? You can learn a lot from another brands successes or failures.

9. Inside Information

Run a background check on your chosen celebrity before you sign the contract to separate truth from rumor. You want to know now anything exists in their past such as arrests or convictions that you don’t want your company associated with.

10. Check for Overexposure

Knowing how many campaigns the celebrity appears in now and how many more will activate in the next 12 months will help determine if your celebrity’s impact could be diminished by other brands.

Celebrity Endorsement Ads is a good place to review other endorsements. Then, conduct a simple Google search to learn when campaigns were launched.

Once you have a list of campaigns, ask the celebrity’s agent to confirm current deals and ask for any others. Also ask for information regarding any new deals premiering in the next 12 months.

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10 Ways to Use Celebrity Marketing to Help Grow Your Brand

ten tips for celebrity marketing

The most successful celebrity campaigns I’ve worked on have been driven by brand executives seeing an opportunity and acting on it.

Using a celebrity can be a powerful way to take advantage of new opportunities during the marketing cycle and provide a strategic advantage over competitive brands.

If you don’t have much experience in celebrity marketing, it may be helpful to know the variety of ways other brands have used them.

This is my top ten list of ways you can use a celebrity’s help:

  1. Break through the clutter. Using a celebrity marketer opens the door for your key messages to be “pulled” in over thousands of others bombarding consumers.
  2. Build brand awareness. Using a celebrity can shorten the time needed for consumers to become familiar with a new brand. It might take a brand five years to get to where a celebrity endorsement could take it in only one year.
  3. New brand introduction. A celebrity partner will be an assest anywhere and everywhere they go, which means that your brand will be represented as well at all of the exclusive events such as award ceremonies, the red carpet, sporting events and more.
  4. Marketing campaign. Partnering with a celebrity can be a great asset to take your marketing campaign to a whole new level. They can lend instant credibility to a campaign and also provide additional value by leveraging their established fan bases.
  5. New product launch. A celebrity’s endorsement of your product can greatly impact sales. It definitely increases consumer awareness of your brand and provides a differentiation among similar products.
  6. Build credibility. When consumers believe a celebrity uses a product or service, a powerful third-party endorsement creates confidence and respect that is not normally available, providing a strong reason to purchase.
  7. PR events. A cost effective way to deliver key message points. The media love to interact with celebrities because they are just like us. This is a cost effective way to deliver your key points.
  8. Branded content. Branded content is a way for advertisers to let their messages come across in a “not so commercial” way. Using one or more “hot” stars will draw people to content in large numbers quickly.
  9. Creating an emotional connection. There is such a great desire to identify with a celebrity, to drink the same drink, wear the same clothes, drive the same cars, etc. Fans want to be like them and do what they do. There is a strong emotional connection with that celebrity that can be attached to a brand.
  10. Implementing a new brand strategy. According to a new media study, 95% of social-media users believe a company should have a presence in social media. A celebrity fueled social media strategy can greatly amplify your brand’s online presence to reach consumers faster than traditional approaches.

photo credit: Defence Images via photopin cc