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How to Identify the Right Celebrity for Your Marketing Campaign


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Written by: Bob Williams

Narrowing down choices for your celebrity endorser should not be based on bias or personal preference; it should be comprehensive and built on sound marketing research

How to Identify Potential Celebrity Candidates

The celebrity decision should stem from the campaign’s creative or big idea. Often times, the reason some marketing campaigns fail is because of a weak connection between the celebrity and product. Picking the right talent for a campaign can be done in three steps:

  1. Creative/Messaging: The first step is understanding what role the celebrity will be filling for the campaign.
  2. Ideal Celebrity Candidate: Price and availability aside, who is your ideal celebrity for the campaign?
  3. Establishing Criteria: Who does your target audience relate to? This could encompass a variety of people from television characters to politicians.

The Process of Elimination

There are a number of different metrics that marketers can use to narrow down their list of potential celebrities. Using all of these methods is rarely feasible for most budgets, so marketers should pick and choose which will be most effective for their current needs. These methods include:

  1. Qualitative: Third parties, focus groups, individual interviews, etc. have the ability to yield powerful information regarding a celebrity’s brand equity and any connotations associated with them.
  2. Quantitative: Box office sales, Nielsen ratings, E-Poll, Q-Scores, Billboard Charts, etc. can all be used as a way to compare numbers attached to celebrities.
  3. Schedule: Research the celebrities in question and mark off those who will be working during your planned production, or have conflicting events of any sort. Athletes can be especially difficult to reserve with their constant training and demanding schedules.
  4. Conflicts in the Category: Ensure that the celebrity does not have an existing or recent partnership with a competitive product. This may include factors like whether or not the celebrity has ever publicly mentioned competitive products in a positive manner.
  5. Other Variables: Usually, problems with celebrity marketing deals aren’t with the celebrities themselves, but with their teams. Agents, managers, labels, publicists, and attorneys can be problematic, and in some cases make it difficult to secure the celebrity. If the celebrity themselves won’t endorse the product, it may be because they don’t want to use their image in advertising, find the brand controversial, or aren’t interested in being a spokesperson.

Choosing the Right Celebrity Performer

The final questions that should be asked during the decision process may be the most important. These questions are:

  1. Are they believable? Do they appear as an honest brand ambassador, or do they look desperate for publicity?
  2. Are they overexposed? How many projects are they currently involved in, or how many products are they endorsing? If a celebrity is associated with too many things, they may not be memorable candidates. A celebrity that isn’t over overused will have more notability with the audience.
  3. Will they achieve key objectives? Looking at the success of the celebrity’s earlier work, especially in advertising, can be helpful. Do they have the power to move product? Is their word respected enough to influence purchasing behavior?
  4. Will their “celebrity” overshadow the brand? Just like some advertisements suffer from being too funny or too moving, some can suffer from a celebrity being too famous. For example, viewers may remember a commercial featuring Brad Pitt, but they may not remember the product or brand he/she is promoting.


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