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Celebrity Brand Endorsements Good & Bad

This week the Golden State Warriors leader and reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry was in the headlines once again, only it wasn’t for another remarkable sporting achievement. Instead it was the news that he will be the face of Brita, the water filtration company. Surprisingly, this is the first time that Brita has done a celebrity brand endorsement for its brand, but with Steph Curry, they’ve surely struck gold. A happily married father of two, known and admired for his strong work ethic and low-key demeanor, Curry has tremendous appeal. And that appeal isn’t limited to his hometown fans in the Bay Area. Such is his prowess on the court that fans of opposing teams have been known to rise to their feet to cheer him on.

For all the celebrity brand endorsement success stories, there are plenty of examples of partnerships gone sour. Each time a celebrity suffers a major fall from grace, so their partner brands drop away – sooner or later (see Forbes’ take on the six worst endorsements here). And as Subway found out to its peril when its former spokesman Jared Fogle – a non-celebrity who they unwittingly promoted into a national figure – was jailed earlier this year, such endorsements can turn into a PR nightmare.

That said, although not easy on the budget, celebrity brand endorsements can transform the fortunes of companies from also-rans to coveted names. Who would have thought the imagination of the consumers for a fat-reducing grilling machine would be so richly captured by its endorsement with George Foreman? Equally, by joining forces with Steph Curry, part of the magic and glamour of his brand rubs off on what is essentially a rather unglamorous product.

So is it ever possible for small businesses to get a piece of the celebrity brand endorsement action?

If you’re lucky enough to have celebrity clients, you’re one step ahead. Just take a look at this hot tub company owner who scanned his client list, found a celebrity who’d praised his work, and after reaching out to her now has a featured video endorsement on his website.

But if celebrity clients are lacking, and so are the dollars to hire them, rethink ‘celebrity’ as ‘influencer.’ Who is the superstar in your industry? Who is revered, listened to, and therefore has influence?

Social media (not least LinkedIn) has made it easier to make connections with relative strangers and reaching out with a compelling reason why a partnership might be attractive to that person gives you a better chance of breaking through. For example, does your company pioneer an initiative close to the influencer’s heart? Do you have a specific promotion or cause to promote that you know will resonate? Whoever you choose to partner with, it should be relevant and authentic to your audience.

For the ultra-fit Steph Curry to be promoting a product that encourages people to drink better water as opposed to soda seems wholly authentic; the Winklevoss brothers promoting pistachios, a product to which they have no discernible link – decidedly less so.

If you’d like our support in connecting you with your company’s influencers, as ever, please get in touch.




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