NEW-Sean Adams

Before you get excited about linking with a celebrity, think about whether their ‘brand’ is relevant to yours.

Wishing on a star

A few years ago, when Lleyton Hewitt first burst on to the scene, I recall seeing him in two different advertising campaigns.

One was for Nike where his competitiveness and never-say-die,“C’mon!, attitude intuitively seemed a good fit with the values of the sportswear giant.

The other was a bit more puzzling. For some strange reason, he was also promoting a company that had something to do with office furniture, from what I can remember (there, see how effective it was?).

I assume there was some lame headline making a heavy-handed link between a leading tennis player and a range of laminated desktops, but any such connection was tenuous at best.

Hewitt was clearly doing it for the money and the long-forgotten advertiser presumably thought he would give them some kind of X factor.

Fast forward to today and our celebrity obsessed world.

I’d wager that this sort of dilemma is facing more and more marketers nowadays as it becomes progressively harder for brands to cut through and reach an audience at the same time that the cult of the celebrity continues apace.

Would it be a good idea for your brand to sign up a personality as a spokesperson? And if so, who should you choose and how should you use them?

To me the Lleyton Hewitt example illustrates both the good and bad sides of personality endorsement. It also disproves the old saying that any publicity is good publicity.

In my opinion, the best personality-based commercial relationships should be just that – relationships.

They should be long-term, of mutual benefit to both partners and – hey, here’s a thought – the two partners should be compatible in the first place.

So how do you decide on this? I believe that the simplest way to start this process is to look at your potential spokesperson as a brand in their own right.

Think about their main target audience and their ‘brand values’.

Carry out this exercise critically and objectively then compare the results of your analysis with a similarly critical analysis of your own brand: does your proposed partner fit your brand profile or contrast with it?

(That’s not to say that a brand can’t use a personality with differing set of values, but this should only be if there is a specific reason to do so, such as repositioning the brand against a new target audience.)

With consumers having a seemingly unquenchable thirst for celebrity, hitching your brand to a high-profile personality will continue to be an attractive option for marketers looking to improve their brand’s market presence.

But before getting carried away by the glamour of it all, undertaking this simple analysis in the short term should prevent your brand from entering into a dysfunctional and potentially costly relationship.

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