In the wake of Michael Phelps and Chris Brown’s lost endorsement deals after both engaged in illegal behaviour, marketers are taking steps to keep their product pushers from ending up in the tabloids. What should ad agencies and corporations do to keep their celebrity endorser in line? We’ve compiled a handy list of bullet points culled from Ad Age’s article on the matter.
- Make a dead celebrity your brand ambassador: “They are (for obvious reasons) far less likely to ignite media firestorms with callous behaviour. ‘All the scandal is behind them; [there are] no more surprises to be had,’ [ad clearance exec David] Reeder said. ‘You’re not going to catch Elvis in a sex scandal, or Albert Einstein’s not going to hit his girlfriend.’ Such icons are surprising popular with marketers because they have stood the test of time and often continue to resonate well with consumers.” [We would add two tips: a) get permission from the deceased’s estate and b) try to avoid controversial pairings like that Kurt Cobain-Doc Marten mess a few years ago.]
- Use a tried-and-true A-lister, like George Clooney or Nicole Kidman: “They are considered safer because their youthful indiscretions are behind them, and they are generally good citizens. The downside is that such stars can be expensive, sometimes commanding eight figures for multiyear deals.”
- Make sure you have an ironclad contract with the celeb, with a moral clause.
- Follow the following tips when structuring celebrity deals:
- Make sure the star is aligned with your brand and will be a believable booster of it. Check his or her affiliations and charities. Research the star’s record in representing other brands.
- Always ask questions. Be frank during the negotiation process, and don’t be afraid to question an agent about how much power he or she really has in the process.
- Know who the decision makers are. Celebrities have any number of handlers, from agents to attorneys and publicists.
- Understand your budget, and manage expectations. Negotiate an allowance for “glam squads” or makeup artists and others in the celebrity’s entourage so that costs don’t go sky-high. Multiyear contracts often offer some discount too.
- Stroking the ego can go a long way. Living and breathing the letter of the law and constantly going back to the contract isn’t advisable either.
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