The dangers of celebrity endorsement

katieprice ibizaCelebrities. Apparently we love them. Can’t get enough of them. We buy what they wear, crave what they eat, and holiday where they live. That’s what big media tells us anyway.

As a brand owner though, you need to think very long and very hard about aligning your brand to a celebrity as it will be forever linked with that celebrity if they have a moment of madness. Years and years of calculated brand building undone in a second.

Exhibit A: Kerry Katona and Iceland. Original ‘I’m a Celebrity’ winner, Mum of the Year….and maniac. Shifted loads of mini sausage rolls but do we need to say anymore?

Exhibit B: Carphone Warehouse (TalkTalk) and Big Brother. They had a long and successful sponsor agreement with Big Brother / Celebrity Big Brother up until they put Jade Goody and co in a room with Shilpa Shetty and a bucket load of alcopops. As we all know, 3 parts alcohol, and 1 part uncultured brain cell spell disaster.

Exhibit C: Kiddicare sponsoring ‘Katie & Peter’ on ITV2. Quite why a well known and trusted family brand of 30+ years standing would choose to associate themselves with a couple who have made a living out of their tit-for-tat arguing and shameless self promotion is anyone’s guess. Probably them being at certain points Mum and Dad of the Year awards had some sway. But now a very public separation, a ‘trial by redtop’ and drunken Tweets have left an unsavoury end to their union with custody of the children to be deemed in the courts and Kiddicare wishing they’d gone elsewhere.

Exhibit D: Ronaldo. Signs a whopping deal to promote Nike and then moves to Real Madrid who are sponsored as a unit by Adidas. Ronaldo will be covered in Adidas all season long. Doh! And apparently nobody saw it coming…

If you’re going to go down the celebrity endorsement route, there are encyclopedias on how to do it, but for now follow these simple steps and you’ll set off down the right path:

1. Are you targeting b2c or b2b?

2. What sort of promotion do you want – lifestyle vs professional?

3. What are your brand values? What does a celebrity need to embody to carefully promote your brand?

4. Are you looking at a short term promotional campaign (Nintendo DS ads) or a long term campaign (e.g. Gary Lineker and Walkers)?

5. What are their other work and sponsorship arrangements?

These are far from exhaustive but will get you thinking more seriously about your sponsorship relationships and use of celebrities.

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