Insight & Data: the heart of celebrity endorsements
By Edward Bass, Founder of EntSight
Whilst having the potential to be hugely impactful - brand celebrity partnerships often require considerable investment so it is essential that talent selection and strategy is going to ensure ROI.
In a marketing world that is increasingly looking to tighten and justify budgets, more rigour and certainty is needed for such a large marketing investment. Data and insight offers the opportunity to ‘de-risk’ and help maintain your CMO or Marketing Director’s blood pressure.
EntSight first encountered this need five years ago, and has since worked with a number of leading brands including BMW, Tommy Hilfiger, Bowers and Wilkins and IWC Schaffhausen successfully select the most appropriate talent for their consumer audiences and provide strategic guidance on how best to activate and assess the resulting campaigns.
Key to this work has been understanding the ‘audiences’ themselves and treating these as segmented groups with particular interests, passions and behaviours rather than monolithic groups based on broad demographics. It is our view that any brand actively thinking in generalised terms like ‘millennials’ is likely missing the point of how addressable audiences now are.
Face The Change
Even though the landscape of marketing has changed dramatically in its shift towards digital, much of the thinking which informs decision making is very much rooted in the previous era where the name of the game was a ‘broadcast’ approach to reach as many audiences as possible via available mediums. At heart of this shift is the opportunities offered by digital marketing and social media, where specific audiences can be addressed effectively – so whilst back in 1980 it would have been impossible to run a TV advert just to 25 – 35 year old female fitness enthusiasts it is now entirely possible to run digital video, social advertising or a mobile ad to audiences this (and even more) specific.
Furthermore this outdated quest for audience numbers rather than the ‘right’ audience is now too often extended to selection of celebrity partners - where brands and agencies are far too keen to make a case for their selection based simply on follower numbers and engagement, rather than suitability for their specific consumers.
Aside from the aforementioned limitations there is also the risk here that a large share of the audience could well have been ‘bought’ - as the New York Times revealed back in 2018 with their insightful ‘Follower Factory’ expose - which would of course skew perceptions and in some cases actually lead to brands marketing to a large share of automated bots who aren’t likely to buy products. Hardly an express route to ROI.
We’ve learned here at EntSight that this more up to date mindset of ‘addressable audiences’ can be applied to celebrity endorsement and share some examples using our ‘Constellation Score’ methodology in our recent (and free) Celebrity Endorsement report
For example, within the report we explore which Hip Hop artists the luxury fashion brand Gucci’s global audience would respond to best, with both Drake and Lil Nas X seeing high scores based on the audience’s conversation share and positive sentiment, as well as how conversation about the artists reflect the brands values and mission.
More Than Just A Name
This alignment with brand values is key to success as much as identifying a positive audience response or strong affinities - after all a celebrity who does not authentically reflect a brand or products ethos will at best see limited attention from audiences and at worst result in the brand and their celebrity partner being called out by the very audiences they are trying to impress.
Beyond talent selection, a broader understanding of audience’s behaviours is also key to a successful celebrity campaign – informing everything from content themes to the best online and offline channels for promotion to the best media partners. Ultimately a successful campaign can never just rest on the choice of celebrity partner but also how the means of activation match the preferences of a target audience.
Given the vast and growing amount of audience data available to brands and agencies these high investment campaigns can potentially be far less risky and more focused – which can only help to insure the impact and ROI which brand marketers expect.