Branding really took off with celebrities. In the early 1980s, Pepsi paid Michael Jackson the largest-ever amount for an ad – only Jackson refused to drink the product and refused to be filmed even holding a can of the popular cola product. He even told the media that he refused to drink the product. Experts thought that Pepsi was wasting its money, but the cola company knew then what many companies are realizing today – the way that a brand is perceived by customers has more to do with success than any amount of testimonials. Simply by linking Jackson’s music and celebrity to Pepsi by intertwining images of the two, Pepsi was able to increase sales a staggering amount in a very short period of time.
Celebrity-propped branding is still hot in marketing, with marketing companies spending millions to sign the choicest celebrities to promote their products. The reason that celebrity branding works is simple: celebrities are already a brand in themselves, and by linking your product to a celebrity, you allow your company to be associated with all the positive and exciting images that the celebrity inspires. There are a few ways you can get a celebrity to help you with your branding efforts:
•Appeal to what celebrities want. Celebrities do not just want endorsement deals. Many are deeply involved with charity work. By supporting a celebrity charity or offering to help, a celebrity may be willing to mention your company’s work.
•Try and try again. Contact as many celebrity agents and publicists as you can, staying professional each time. Celebrities are busy people and in many cases you will hear many “nos” before you get a “yes” response.
•Match celebrities well. When deciding which celebrities to approach, choose celebrities that have similar ideals as your company and so may be interested in helping you. If you design bullet casings, hire a celebrity with a tough image – and a belief in gun access.
•Aim small. Signing a celebrity for an exclusive promotional contract can easily cost millions of dollars. However, you can easily get a huge boost for your company by simply having a celebrity photographed with your logo or product. Offering the celebrity a free gift or your product or inviting the celebrity to a function your company is hosting is all that is needed – and the photos will push your product easily at a decent cost.
•Try local celebrities. Local sports heroes, news anchors, comedians, and up-and-coming musicians are far more likely to agree to give your company a bit of a boost. Plus, these celebrities often pack a powerful local interest as well.
•Create your own celebrity. Reality shows do it all the time. The restaurant Subway did it – and branded their restaurant as healthier – by making Jared into a celebrity. You can do a similar thing by having a local representative that is featured in your ads and promotions. With time, that person will become so connected with your company that their very presence will evoke your company. Simply choose someone that projects the image you wish your company to project and begin advertising that person in conjunction with your company.