The Value of a Celebrity Advisor
There are a number of real-world examples of businesses attaching themselves to celebrities, some of which have worked extremely well and others that have been agonizing disappointments. What is the value that celebrities bring to businesses?
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The Value of a Celebrity Advisor
Delta Air Lines announced in September a strategic partnership with Tom Brady, owner of seven Super Bowl titles. Delta plans on tapping into the quarterback’s expertise and experience in teamwork, performance and perseverance for the benefit of its global employee base, customers and other key stakeholders.
While no one questions Tom Brady’s extraordinary accomplishments, it does beg the broader question: What is the value that celebrities bring to businesses?
The Record is Mixed
There are a number of real-world examples of businesses attaching themselves to celebrities, some of which have worked extremely well and others that have been agonizing disappointments. For instance:
- Ashton Kutcher, the actor, was the first person to reach 1 million Twitter followers and became a successful venture investor, bringing distinction and financial know-how to a number of early-stage investments.
- Ryan Reynolds, another actor, acquired a significant ownership stake in Aviation Gin, a highly successful craft distillery. The company leveraged Reynolds’ brand recognition to raise its visibility to make deals and promote the product until it grew so big that, two years later, Diageo bought the company for $610 million.
- On the disappointing end of the spectrum, Kayne West’s anti-Semitism saddled Adidas with more than $1 billion of unsold Yeezy product, while Oprah Winfrey’s partnership with Weight Watchers was of little long-term consequence for the company.
Five Traits of a Highly Effective Celebrity Partnership
Businesses looking to partner with a celebrity in the hopes of growing its business need to be very careful with whom they partner. The five key attributes businesses should seek in any potential celebrity partner are:
- Business Acumen—Celebrities should have a record of business experience and success; otherwise, it’s really nothing more than an endorsement deal.
- Industry Knowledge—The celebrity should have a good knowledge of the industry and the markets in which the business operates.
- Good Reputation/Q Score—Prospective celebrities should have a reputation that is highly appealing to consumers and won’t dent the reputation that the company has built for itself. Ideally, the reputation should align with the company’s products and services. For example, a celebrity with a reputation for hard living may not be a good fit for a healthy-living business.
- Willingness to Engage—The celebrity should be willing to engage with management, employees, customers and other stakeholders, as well as promote the company and its products. Absent that, the celebrity is merely a shiny object.
- Appeal to a Broader Consumer Base—The celebrity should have the power to expand a business’s ability to tap new markets and demographic groups to help grow sales.
While celebrities typically come with a large following already built in, significant consideration should be given to which celebrity may best boost a business or brand. The right famous individual can certainly expand the reach of a business, but such a partnership should be given the same level of development and management as any other significant business partnership or expense would be. With the proper planning, the benefits could be incalculable.
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