Celebrity Marketing in the United States

Ad with Jane Fonda from Brazil
Jane Fonda and Lux

Over the past 70 years, more than 2,000 stars have praised the merits of Lux soap. Meanwhile, many other brands have followed suit and are also promoting their products this way. Brad Pitt and Chanel are certainly one of the most obvious examples in the last few years. Using stars when marketing is a marked phenomenon in the United States, and is the subject of today’s post. The approach is called “Celebrity Marketing” or “Celebrity Endorsements”.

This article was written by Vanina Joulin-Batejat, founder of USA-France, whose aim is to help French companies establish themselves in the United States. More particularly, USA-France helps small businesses seeking international growth to be more successful. Visit the Réussir aux USA (Succeed in USA) website for more information!

Marketing with celebrities

Marketing is extremely common in the United States. So much so that it is unthinkable to start a business without implementing a solid marketing plan beforehand. There are, however, some techniques to help your brand to stand out. Getting celebrity support is one such technique.

A celebrity endorsement is a marketing approach that involves obtaining a celebrity’s support in a particular field. These people can be well-known leaders, athletes or actors (Catherine, the word actor is now gender-neutral, so we don’t need to use “actress”), to support a brand. This approach is widely used in the United States, and can bring real credibility to a newly created business. This support is vital when your brand is launched.

This technique applies to everyone, to multinational companies and small family businesses alike, who can also hire both international and local celebrities.

In the United States, having celebrity support can completely change your company. In a world full of routine advertising, consumers don’t pay much attention to what they see and hear. However, advertisements featuring celebrities, in the newspaper, on TV or on the radio, can get their attention and lends credibility to your business. You must be careful, because if the celebrity is poorly chosen or if the campaign is not suitable, it can become a fiasco. The 2011 Dior Addict campaign is a prime example: Kate Moss was chosen as the face of this campaign, just after coming out of rehab.

How do you choose the right celebrity for your company?

The target market: If the celebrity you have hired to represent your brand isn’t credible with your audience, your campaign will surely fail. Having solid knowledge of everyone likely to consume your product is therefore crucial. Your target market must, in fact, identify with the celebrity you have hired and this celebrity must be credible in the eyes of everyone likely to purchase your products, even if they are not your marketing campaign’s intended target market.

The product: What you sell greatly influences which celebrity you should choose. Not just the kind of product you sell, but also, and especially, the image you wish to portray. If you sell perfume, for example, choosing an actress or an actor might be wise, but, because each actor (and each perfume) exudes a particular image, it is important to choose the right one for your product’s image.

The budget: The cost of hiring celebrities differs. If you are a small business, you will probably have to work with a more local celebrity, which is fairly common in the United States even if it limits your target.

How do you find them?

Specialty search engines are used to find celebrities, like Brand & Celebrities in Europe or the recently launched Brand Affinity Technologies in the United States. They are multi-criteria search engines that enable you to narrow down the right celebrity. They take into consideration the values and image you want to portray, as well as your target market, to suggest celebrities best suited for the campaign you wish to implement.

A special thanks to Vanina and USA-France for this article. For further information, please refer to this blog post: “Les célébrités, les marques et la publicité” (Celebrities, brands and advertising) that discusses the history of marketing with celebrities and gives you an idea of the budget required.

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