Paying for brand ambassadors: worth it or not?

In our last blog post we touched upon how your employees were your best brand ambassadors. However, many brands also pay high profile celebrities to endorse their products and/or services such as Brumby’s, who has recently announced its partnership with Matthew Hayden.

While many brands have successfully leveraged a celebrity relationship to their benefit, a large number have failed to engage their core consumer with the new ‘face’ of their business.

Why so?

Brand ambassadors must be picked carefully. Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean your target consumer will instantly warm to them. What’s key here is to ensure your brand ambassador is relevant to your products and services and, in turn, your customer.

The main aim of having a celebrity brand ambassador on board is to transfer the equity of said person to your business, resulting in enhanced preference and a heightened perceived credibility for your brand. They should be instantly recognisable and aligned with your proposition.

Target has recently demonstrated a great re-positioning campaign using the services of fashion guru, Gok Wan. This has worked brilliantly for them as Gok is well-known – and, importantly, liked – by consumers from all walks of life. He is neither too ‘fashion-forward’ nor hyper-critical, meaning the average Target customer feels assured that he – and therefore Target  –  really does have their best fashion interests at heart.

Linking with a public figure who is known for their brilliant charity or community work can also be an effective way to ‘piggy-back’ your messaging. Our client, Poolwerx, recently did exactly that, joining forces with Kids Alive founder, Laurie Lawrence, to promote swimming pool safety this summer. You can see more about that here.

Of course, it can go horribly wrong. Affiliating yourself fully with a celebrity means that if they fall from a great height, so do you. Think Kate Moss and the cocaine scandal – hugely embarrassing for the likes of Chanel and Burberry.

On the flipside, some great crisis PR can rescue your brand and even turn a disaster into a success. Rimmel stuck by Moss and some have argued that it actually boosted its profile and helped Moss obtain even greater international appeal. Her rock ‘n’ roll goddess status certainly didn’t take a hit – it just added to her ‘bad girl’ persona, which Rimmel evidently thrived upon.

But in truth, does anyone really want their brand to be associated with such negative connotations, regardless of the outcome?

In summary, there is certainly a place for celebrities in marketing and PR campaigns. Just be sure to choose someone who will reflect your company’s ethos and values, and who will bring more than just their name to your brand.