The Economist


Starstruck or star-crossed? Leveraging celebrities in strategic marketing

Jeetendr Sehdev | The Economist

Britain’s most iconic athlete, David Beckham was recently named the face of Haig Club, a Scotch whisky launching later this year. Beckham’s fame alone has driven huge awareness of the brand before it’s even hit the market. But is this partnership strategic enough to drive more than brand awareness and actually impact purchase?

One of the biggest problems in the world of celebrity branding is that marketers engage superstars like Beckham to build awareness, but fail to consider celebrity influence in more focused ways at other stages of the consumer decision-making process. Why stop at brand awareness when the power of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry can increase active product evaluation or consumer loyalty? Increasing pressure to prove the value of marketing demands we apply more science to the art of star power.

Most marketers who get in bed with celebrities play a risky game of Russian Roulette. Case in point: the infamous $50 million Beyoncé and Pepsi deal. When marketing research is disregarded in such a way, brand chaos ensues. Herein lies the big issue that inspired me to create a scientific approach to quantify star power, JAAM—Jeetendr’s Alternate Aptitude Methodology. By uncovering what a target audience values in a particular celebrity and aligning those specific attributes with the brand, marketers can finally engage in a strategic celebrity partnership that’s rooted in a ROI-based approach.

Take, for example, Quaker Oats’ engagement of celebrity fitness trainer and star of “The Biggest Loser,” Bob Harper. Bob was tapped to tweet his support of starting the day with a healthy Quaker oatmeal breakfast. The partnership made contextual sense, but where exactly was the brand equity opportunity for Quaker Oats? What was the true dollar value, and did Harper’s sponsored tweets influence consumers at the most critical moment in the consumer decision journey? These are serious questions marketers need to address in order to develop celebrity partnerships that transcend tactics and impact the bottom line.

From awareness to advocacy, strategic celebrity endorsements can influence different stages of the purchase process. Consider Ellen DeGeneres’s Oscar selfie with a gaggle of A-list stars, which surpassed Obama’s election victory photo by generating 871,000 retweets in one hour. Ellen proved the power of celebrity at the advocacy stage of the purchase path. Celebrities can build intimate connections with fans one tweet at a time, making social networks THE place to drive recommendations—a valuable insight for many brands that view consumer advocacy as the ultimate measure of success.

Until now, the terms “strategy” and “celebrity” have not appeared together in marketing plans, let alone in the same sentence. But data is bridging the gap, and soon “strategy” will become synonymous with “celebrity.” As celebrities are used in more targeted ways to build brand equity, star-struck CMOs will no longer be stuck in one part of the purchase pipeline with celebrity partnerships.


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. View the original article here 


Give brands the star treatment on Twitter

Jeetendr Sehdev | The Economist
Celebrities can teach marketers how to connect in 140 characters or less

Twitter is the voice of brand-savvy Hollywood. Demi Moore posts selfies in order to flaunt her fit bikini body and Ellen DeGeneres gets closer to her fans by sharing her adept pop culture observations on #ClassicJokeMondays.

Using calculated ways that put corporate brands to shame, the smartest celebrities have mastered the art of connecting with people in 140 characters or less. Celebrity tweets, whether shocking or banal, serve as great examples of how to deliver on today’s need for brutally honest brand conversations.

Here is what superstars can teach marketers about using Twitter to create iconic brands that generate fan frenzy:

Let it out: Miley Cyrus recently used Twitter to slam a commenter who responded to a photo of Cyrus with a rapper by pointing out that the Disney star is in fact white. Alec Baldwin became so enraged at one media report of his wife tweeting during the funeral of James Gandolfini that he unleashed a profane Twitter rant.

Cyrus and Baldwin expressed their genuine outrage for everyone in the social sphere to see. Celebrities teach us the importance of speaking your mind on Twitter. Letting it out can be an authentic way of showing your human side and creating advocates through empathy.

Take it off: Reality TV royalty, the Kardashians, prove that Twitter gives fans the ultimate VIP treatment. By posting a steady stream of unfiltered, and sometimes unflattering, behind-the-scenes photographs of Kim getting laser hair removal or her teeth whitened, they provide an all-access, insider look at stardom, flaws and all.

Kim, Kourtney and Khloe have created a truly intimate connection with their audience. Think of Twitter as a game of strip poker – don’t be the only one sitting at the table in your trench coat. Take it off. Show some skin.

Ask for it: Action hero Sylvester Stallone asked his Twitter followers for their opinion on who should direct and star in his next movie, Expendables 3. Celebrities recognize that Twitter is a two-way conversation and there’s no stronger advocate for a brand than those who help create it.

Use Twitter to excite and motivate your audience into action. Ask for their help in designing new packaging or tap into consumer preferences to shape product development. Don’t be afraid to crowdsource new ideas.

Tinseltown has taught us the need to get raw, real and occasionally, undressed on Twitter. In order to master the most intimate form of fan engagement, don’t just be a follower on Twitter – put on a show and you’ll create contagious Twitter fever. 


Jeetendr wrote the op-ed exclusively for The Economist. View the original article here