Chris Koney’s column: Five considerations when seeking a celebrity to endorse your brand

Robert Tuchman

When trying to get a new company off the ground, it’s easy to lean toward the idea of finding a celebrity to endorse your product or service. While this absolutely can be an effective marketing tactic, finding the right celebrity for your brand is a monumental hurdle to jump. Celebrities can add a lot of value to a burgeoning business, but the wrong partnership can lead to widespread embarrassment and actually devalue your brand.

Knowing that, here are five things to consider when deciding on a potential celebrity for endorsement:

  1. Don’t pick just any celebrity

As an entrepreneur starting a new business, it can be tempting to just latch onto any celebrity who offers his or her services as a potential endorsement partner. There are, for example, plenty of former ’80s and ’90s television stars and athletes just itching for extra work these days. But someone who has lost his or her relevance is not going to help expand your brand. Be patient, scout plenty of potential options and make the most informed decision possible when agreeing on a celebrity to endorse your product.

  1. Make sure your brand is well represented

While no one can predict the future, there are clearly some celebrities that offer huge risks even though they might also provide wide appeal.

Back in 2013, for example, pop singer Beyonce was heavily criticized for taking on a US$50 million endorsement deal with Pepsi after already agreeing to be part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move fitness campaign. Both Beyonce and Pepsi took heat for this, specifically because she misrepresented either one of her products or both of them.

Further, athletes such as Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods were surest things in the world when Nike first signed them, but scandals later in their careers proved to be a black eye to the brands whose products they endorsed.

  1. Be prepared to pay for good ones.

The bigger the star, the more expensive they are going to be, but sometimes, if your idea is good enough, you may be able to work out a deal in which a celebrity may actually get some equity in the business in exchange for his or her contributions to the marketing side of things.

New York entrepreneur Ali Abdullah, for example, developed a smartphone app called Claim it!, which gives away prizes to users in exchange for watching 15-second ads. The idea was good enough to actually draw in former NBA star Al Harrington not only as an endorsement partner, but as an investor, while former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Nate Burleson also joined on as an advisor. Both athletes are well-respected and likeable, but it was a piece of the company that truly got them invested in the product. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to bring aboard respected names.

  1. Be aware of a celebrity’s reach

It is surprising sometimes which celebrities actually reach the most people. Those with a strong social media presence could be more valuable to your brand than those that stay away from Twitter and Instagram, even if they have a generally less recognizable public persona or thinner resume. If the fan base is strong, especially online, there’s big value in that, particularly when targeting that all-important millennial consumer base.

  1. Make sure the celebrity will stay involved

Whether or not the celebrity endorsing your brand has equity in the company, it is important to encourage them to actually stick with the program and be reliable in taking advantage of personal connections while remaining active on social media to the business’ advantage. Part of that is finding a celebrity with character and work ethic, and part of that is compensating them fairly. The bottom line, though, is that it’s important to make sure that the celebrity actually works to improve your visibility, not just collect a check.

There is no question that celebrity endorsements work, especially for new businesses that need increased visibility quickly, but not just any celebrity will do. Choosing the right one requires careful consideration because as wonderful as a good celebrity endorsement can be, a bad one can be equally hurtful. So choose wisely, and hope that any famous person pushing your product is sincere, reliable and, most important, marketable.

Leave a Reply