Consumer Communications: Selecting the Right Celebrity Brand Ambassador

Like us, you’ve probably watched a movie and seen a product integration that seemed out of place, or seen an ad with a celebrity ambassador that just didn’t seem like a good fit. One example: the Twittersphere was in a tizzy over Ed Sheeran’s cameo in Game of Thrones. Diehard fans were notinto it, commenting that his presence felt too modern and pop-culture centric for a series rooted in fantasy and the past.

As PR professionals, we’re often tasked with finding the right celebrity or influencer partners to represent brands. Deciding on the wrong ambassador can generate headlines, but not in a good way. Here are five key takeaways to keep in mind when vetting a celebrity ambassador:

  • Conduct a thorough investigation into people who align with the brand. Consider key factors like demographics, public persona, political opinions and more. Do the people who you’re interested in fit with the ethos of your brand and the target consumer you’re trying to reach? How would the audience react to them? If any feel like a stretch, remove them from the list.
  • Once you have a list pared down, uncover previous partnerships your potential celebrity ambassadors have had over the years. Is there something in their pasts that conflict with the character behind your brand? Or perhaps they’ve even represented a competitor. Make sure your homework reveals anything that a consumer might reflect on and see as a mixed message.
  • Reach is an important factor in the decision process as well. Engage a personality with cache. Consider factors such as how often your potential picks have been in the media recently and what current projects they have underway. Are all the people still relevant? Look at their social media channels to see how large their followings are, and more importantly how engaged they are. This secondarily gives you a good sense of good potential personality matches.
  • Authenticity is vital to success. Once you’ve begun reaching out to celebrity or influencer talent managers, determine if their clients actually like or use your company/product. For example, if you were promoting a dairy brand, you’d want to make sure your partner wasn’t vegan. Or, if you represent a clothing company, does the person you’re considering ever wear their clothes? Find a celebrity ambassador who believes in your brand; he or she will do a better job and seem believable to your key audience.
  • Lastly, determine who you can afford. We recommend investigating several “tiers” of partners – those who are not as popular or timely will be more affordable to engage, as personalities who are currently on a hit show or selling millions of records will be pricey. Feel out price ranges for several options so you can accommodate your brand’s budget while still driving ROI.

Of course, with any well-known personality, there are variables you can’t anticipate. But with thorough vetting – and a solid contract – you can set yourself up for success.

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