Last month, The New York Times reported that PepsiCo has embarked on a multiyear campaign with Beyonce estimated at $50 million. The campaign will utilize traditional advertising tactics like commercials (no surprise there), but what’s interesting is the emphasis placed on creative collaboration – Pepsi has put a multi-million dollar fund towards supporting the singer’s chosen projects.
The campaign is not an isolated case but rather part of a growing trend. I recently spoke with Bloomberg TV about a shift in the way brands approach partnerships – rather than using celebrities to simply endorse their products, brands are bringing celebrities into the fold by allowing them to participate in the creative process. Whether it’s assisting in product innovation, producing branded content, etc.
There are a couple of different market factors driving this new model of celebrity partnerships. Studies show that consumer trust in traditional advertising is at an all-time low, so authenticity is no longer an aspiration, but a mandate for marketers. We also live in an increasingly connected era and just as consumers expect interaction with brands, they expect celebrities to be equally as involved. Lastly, there are a growing number of celebrity entrepreneurs whose personal brands are now built around being smart business people. Examples include 50 Cent (Vitamin Water) and Ashton Kutcher (A-Grade Investments). Therefore, many celebrities have a desire to be involved behind the scenes and help shape business and brand strategy rather than just being the face of the campaign.
Generally speaking, celebrity partnerships help drive brand awareness and elevate brand perception by tapping into new markets, promoting specific brand attributes and challenging preconceived notions about the brand.
The new model of celebrity partnerships, can accomplish all of those things and more:
– Create content that is more engaging and sharable
– Foster deeper, more meaningful brand narratives
– Improve a brand’s authenticity
– Differentiate a brand from its competitors
– Impact the business model of the partnership
– Innovate the product/service offering
When high-profile celebrities are seen using a product, it can help reassure consumers about the true quality of a product. We see this a lot with athletes, in particular. For example, LeBron James created a line of sneakers with Nike, which he wears when he plays. By extension, when the Miami Heat won the NBA Finals last year and LeBron was named MVP it in turn improved Nike’s reputation as a quality brand and gained additional exposure for the shoe. In fact, Nike’s stock increased by 2-3% the following day.
But it’s not only in the best interest of the brand to form more collaborative relationships – celebrities can benefit as well. Working with a brand in this way means that celebrities don’t have to comprise their credibility. The additional exposure helps them raise their personal brand equity, as well as additional resources, which they can allocate to support outside ventures.