Celebrity in the Brand Age

In the brand age, many celebrities have moved beyond simple product placements or testimonial endorsements, and have made the segway to creative director territories- licensing their identities to lead brands as creative directors at large.  It’s no secret that in today’s age a celebrity is a brand in and of their own right- with licensing deals for their names on products & media empires revolving around their sole individuality.  Examples of celebrities who achieved their own brand status & then parlayed this to official partnerships with brands include:

Kim Kardashian & QuickTrim

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Beyonce & Pepsi

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Of course who could forget the original celebrity brand purveyor KISS frontman Gene Simmons who has orchestrated a slew of cross-branded collaborations.

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When it comes to brands who do not have the budgets or accessibility to engage these celebrity brands, the options are limited in terms of how to capitalize off of their cultural relevance.  Most easily executed & arguably most cost effective is the medium of social media which allows both brands & consumers to connect via a simple @mention or hashtag. Usually referred to as trend jacking, a brand will leverage a popular consumer created hashtag to tap in to the cultural conversations.  Many examples occurred during the birth of UK’s Prince George: 

Coca Cola Taps the #RoyalBaby hashtag craze:

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 2.34.03 PMStarbucks hopped on the celebratory bandwagon too but choose not to leverage any hashtag or @mention functionality:

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Even a year later, brands  like UK retailer ASDA, continue to leverage the little royal’s birthday via a social media and special sales promotion, bringing their message to the masses with consumer originating hashtags such as #HappyBirthdayGeorge:

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Then there are brands taking the less risk- adverse approach  by directly tagging them or name checking their visual identity.  A classic example was Arby’s real time marketing content play on Twitter during the EMMY’s leveraging celebrity musician Pharrell’s red carpet look’s similarity their own logo:

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A more elaborate brand play to leverage celebrity stems from the experiential practice of advertising, such as creating unique experiences in conjunction with high profile events that celebrities would already be attending. This allows for multiple brand mention opportunities  in relation to celebrities in attendance. While many celebrities make millions of dollars in profit from this transaction, the business model is still evolving & with the advancement of content marketing, new curation methods and tools do not mandate formal contract agreements between brand & celeb. What do you think of how brands leverage celebrity likeness?

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