Why do brands embrace the faces of celebrity? It’s not a new phenomenon and has been part of our daily consumption for many decades; in fact, it’s difficult not to name a product or company that hasn’t engaged in some form of celebrity endorsement. Celebrities can be a vehicle for brands to reach out to new audience niches as well as the mainstream. Some well-known and successful brand associations include George Clooney (Nespresso), Jennifer Aniston (Emirates), Nicole Kidman (Etihad), Michael Jordan (Nike) and Jamie Oliver (Woolworths). Success can add millions in brand value through positive association and the power of aspiration. Consumers are well aware that these arrangements are paid for but will see past that if the association is credible and real. Guy Sebastian has recently been announced as AirAsia’s brand ambassador in Australia in a deal that promises to work well for both parties. AirAsia receive the benefit of a very likeable personality with a clean image in the vast entertainment industry. AirAsia sees the synergy of entertainment and travel working together in a lifestyle brand sense to appeal to their audience, produce engaging content and attract attention across borders. Sebastian in turn is looking to promote himself further across Asia and AirAsia’s massive reach will assist. The airline has worked before with musicians in other markets and several top executives are former music industry executives including the co-founder, Tony Fernandes. AirAsia X Group CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said the airline was thrilled to have Guy on board calling him a “natural fit for AirAsia”. “Guy embodies AirAsia’s values and ideals with his support of the community through charity work and will promote AirAsia’s brand,” he said. In an interesting twist, about the time Sebastian was announcing the arrangement with AirAsia, controversial Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios parted ways as an ambassador for Malaysia Airlines after just one year. Sometimes the relationship just doesn’t work out, or maybe, wasn’t a good fit to start with. In another format, Australian radio and TV personality Jules Lund has established a marketing start-up called Tribe which targets brands that want to get active in social media through associating themselves with brand personalities or ‘influencers’. The marketplace model allows users (influencers) to bid online to provide services or endorsements for a product or brand which can then be purchased by that brand. Tribe promises ‘authentic advocacy’, with influencers choosing brands, not the other way around. Tribe has just completed a round of funding to fuel expansion in technology and markets. It has claimed to have worked with more than 500 brands and have about 4500 influencers on its books. If you’re considering a brand ambassador here’s a checklist of some key considerations:
- Choose the right brand ambassador! What are they going to do for you and who do they appeal to? Is their association with your brand or product believable? Do your research thoroughly.
- It needs to be a two-way relationship with real benefits for both parties. It’s not just about dollars.
- All obligations and terms need to be set out in writing for executing. And, also allow for the arrangement not working out.
- Meet regularly to manage obligations under the contract and explore new opportunities.
- How will you measure the success or otherwise of your investment? Is it in sales, audience recall, specific brand attribute measurements, or digital media traction? Be clear with your own goals and expectations.