Duck Dynasty: The Dangers of Tying Your Brand to Celebrities
The biggest business risk in using famous personalities as part of your marketing strategy is the possibility of attracting negative publicity to your brand based on what the celebrity says or does. They are human and humans make mistakes. Unfortunately these mistakes are magnified because they are famous and public figures. The agencies representing celebrities have little direct control over their words or actions.
Overall, the power of celebrity endorsement is clearly attractive, and the benefits (read that: "profits") can be considerable. However, before deciding to hire someone famous to represent your brand and/or as a part of your promotional products initiative, be sure to weigh the benefits versus the possible risks. Remember that with social media so prevalent, it can be harder for you to defend your brand's image due to the rapid pace of information sharing posting of negative feedback. Most importantly, make sure you take steps to protect yourself and your brand or your client.
The Safety Net
If you're going down the path of using a celebrity as part of a promotional products campaign or some other initiative, it's imperative that you not only have a crisis plan in place—before the campaign launches—but revisit it on a regular basis. It's also critical that you monitor the Web for brand mentions and make sure you're on top of what's happening in the online space at all times. And when the time comes that you know you've got a problem on your hands, know that your explanation and/or your handling of the crisis will likely be microscopically examined, dissected and written about. So make sure you know the risks associated with that celebrity endorsement before you get involved with them.
In closing, perhaps the most thought-provokingly spot-on piece written on this topic in the last couple of days is Linda Holmes' piece for NPR, where she says: "In the end, whatever the GQ piece revealed that anyone didn't already know, it's awfully hard to figure out how suspending Phil Robertson from filming addresses it." Her point is that it's highly unlikely that A&E wasn't already aware of Robertson's views on this and a variety of topics, and that this action on their part is a move to do what's expected of them by the media until this storm blows over and little else. If you want to read Holmes' post (and you should) you'll find it here: "'Duck' and Cover: What Exactly Is the Point?"
Jeff is executive director of the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA). Prior to that, he was responsible for developing safe and compliant brand merchandise for Michelin. He has worked with brands in publishing, consumer products, broadcasting and film for over 30 years. Follow Jeff on Twitter, and QCA on Facebook.