Celebrity Campaigns During COVID-19


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How Social Media Marketing Will Change As A Result

The COVID-19 global lock-down left many of us, stuck at home, and on our phones for hours of the day. Some of us even found ourselves unemployed, including celebrities. So, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen an increase in celebrity endorsements and social media ads this past year, after all, celebrities have to get paid somehow. 

However, it’s likely that this period of celebrity endorsements will forever change social media marketing, becoming more casual and entertaining to appeal to a younger audience.  In this blog, Hollywood Branded will look at some of the biggest Celebrity Campaigns from the past year, discuss the changes that may be coming in the marketing industry, and how your company can take advantage of them.

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Celebrity Campaigns - How They Work 

How does a celebrity partnership happen? Well, it’s much different than you’d think, and it hasn’t changed much during COVID-19. The only changes that we saw during COVID-19 with the celebrity endorsement process stemmed from a lack of work.

Companies stopped creating advertising material from March until July. In those months, celebrities and agencies alike had lots of free time with few job offers coming in. There were no commercial shoots, no events, no performances, no premieres, no work opportunities for celebrities.

Because of this, celebrities became extremely eager to work, looking for ways they could get their voice out there to do good. This was perfect when companies started trying to do charity and hope campaigns to support essential workers.

Digital platforms and social media made these partnerships easy because companies didn’t have to plan a day for a promotional shoot or fund hair, makeup, and crew. Now, we are seeing a return to normalcy, safe production sets, and typical celebrity campaigns. However, we are still seeing an increase in celebrity work ethic and excitement for partnerships.

So, how does a company start a partnership with a celebrity? First, they have to prepare a Letter Of Intent (or, LOI). Essentially, it is an offer letter which is sent to the celebrity’s talent agent. After some negotiations back and forth, a contract is signed, and the partnership begins.

Later in the blog, we’ll talk about how your company can get started, but first let’s look at some celebrity COVID partnerships from the past year.

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Celebrity Campaigns During COVID-19

When the world shut down for COVID-19, companies had to get creative with advertising. Commercial productions, celebrity appearances on shows, and promotional photoshoots had to be put on hold or canceled. A few months in, we started to see at home video commercials being run.

This trend spread from industry to industry and eventually, everyone was doing it. Some companies even sent “at-home production kits” to celebrities with brand new iPhones and ring lights to shoot videos of themselves.

Not only was this good news for companies, it was also good for celebrities and talent agencies. According to an interview done by Ad Age, Doug Shabelman, CEO and partner at Burns Entertainment, said in reference to their agency’s work this year; “We’ve seen a lot more willingness of talent to do things that they wouldn’t necessarily have done before.”

It was clear that celebrities were as willing to work through these challenging times to do advertisements as the companies were, which made each campaign that much more successful.

The fashion industry was one of the first to get COVID safe operations off the ground. Since Fashion week in Italy had to be shut down right almost immediately after it started, high fashion models like the Hadid sisters suddenly found themselves without work.

Photoshoots internationally began getting canceled as the world went into lock down. However, in April, only a month later, Vogue and Vogue Italia came up with ideas to stand in place of their usual magazine cover shoots.

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Gigi and Bella Hadid both participated in several at-home photoshoots with various designers. Pictured below are some of their editorial and behind the scenes shots from their at-home magazine photo shoots. Both sisters also commented on the unprecedented times and what it took for them both to accomplish an at-home photo shoot like this.

Some of the earlier pandemic celebrity endorsements took on this method of media creation. However, as restrictions fluctuated and companies created safer regulations for in-person work, more opportunities opened up.

More recently, Uber has been capitalizing on celebrity appearances on their Uber Eats TV commercials. Both Mark Hamill and Patrick Stewart appeared in an Uber Eats commercial in September 2020 to appeal to Star Wars and Star Trek fans alike. The two were pictured announcing their Uber Eats orders in front of each other in a warehouse.

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The interaction felt confrontational and competitive, likely to add to the on-going fan disputes as to which film series is better than the other. One thing to note about this commercial is its simplicity. It was filmed in a large open space and pictured only both the actors and an Uber Eats paper bag. This made is safer during COVID restrictions and more efficient as a commercial in general.

Thanks to an Ad Age article, here are a few more examples of celebrity commercial appearances that have happened in the last year:

  • Rick Moranis and Ryan Reynolds for Mint Mobile
  • Bruce Willis for Advance Auto Parts
  • Alan Ruck as Cameron Frye for LiftMaster
  • Hugh Jackman for RM Williams
  • David Schwimmer for TSB (British Bank)
  • Phyllis Smith for Joann Fabric
  • Bill Murray for Jeep

How Could This Benefit You?

For years, celebrity marketing has been a marketing strategy that was out of reach for some smaller companies and brands. However, it is becoming more accessible with social media advertising, especially following the pandemic. Lower budget campaigns make it easier for you to afford a celebrity, and COVID-19 is making it easier for you to spark their attention.

The bikini brand 437 is a prime example of how you can use the power of celebrities to market a small company and still keep your products affordable for the average consumer. The brand launched in 2017 and has become a multi-million-dollar brand according to a Forbes article.

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Most recently, their products have been worn by Adison Rae, Kourtney Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Megan Thee Stallion. Despite all of this, their bikini pieces still remain below $50.

How is this possible? The brand marketed themselves well and was able to create a relationship with TikTok star, Adison Rae who happens to be close friends with the Kardashian-Jenner clan.

From there, the word spread, and the free social media placements started rolling in. To continue to appeal to their main audience, they kept the prices reasonable and released their own lines of lifestyle wear, matching sets, and crewnecks.

In short, its easier than ever to get a celebrity interested in representing your brand through social media, all you have to do is take that opportunity and strategize.

What The Future Of Social Media Marketing May look Like

Social media marketing is getting even more casual, especially as a result of shifted strategies during COVID-19. Gone are the days where brands have to pay top dollar for professional photoshoots and film crews to create social media material for their campaigns.

Letting the celebrity dictate the content creation themselves, much like general social media influencers, allows for more creativity and authenticity to come from the media. Brands are taking note and starting their own casual marketing strategies.

Jose Cuervo’s “Who’s Making Margs” series is a great example of a new marketing strategy which is making use of celebrity-generated content.

In August 2020, the tequila brand started hosting a periodic live stream on Discord where viewers can see celebrities get interviewed while also making a margarita using Jose Cuervo. There is a viewer max, so fans have to rush to guarantee their spot on the live stream. Each celebrity makes the drink in their own way with their signature recipe which viewers can copy at home.

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It’s casual, it’s accessible, and it’s fun. Plus, what fan doesn’t want to watch their favorite celebrity get interviewed while making margaritas, it’s like talking to them in your own home. And in addition, hosting an ongoing series that doubles as an advertisement is like killing two birds with one stone for a brand. Jose Cuervo has already had T-Pain (pictured above), Lil Dicky, Keke Palmer, and more.

This is just one unique idea to utilize the power of celebrities at a lower-cost and in a way the celebrity likely prefers. There are infinite possibilities for your brand, you just have to get creative.

How You Can Get Started

To get started, you need to plan ahead. The most important thing, it you need to know exactly and explicitly what you want from the celebrity. This means you need to articulate it and write it down, to the very last detail.

It can include verbiage you want them to say if you want them to do a video, a caption you want them to include on a social media post, and how many actions you want from them before the partnership is over. All of this is unique to the brand and the partnership.

Next, you have to budget. Celebrity partnerships could cost you anywhere from $2,500 to multi-millions of dollars depending on the celebrity you want. The more famous the more money you will likely have to spend.

Lastly, you have to outthink the partnership and think of the worst-case scenario. If you don’t, you won’t be ready for potential problems. This also means you should outline your deal breakers so that you are prepared to walk away should anything go terribly wrong.

After you’ve outlined all of these things, get them written into a contract and LOI to send over to the celebrity or talent agent. A marketing agency could do this for you if you don’t already have a team well-versed in celebrity partnerships.

During this process, you may be advised to ad extra asks or “fluff” to the contract which can be negotiated out. This guarantees your bare minimum will be accepted. It is important that you don’t get attached to those extra asks because they will likely be denied by the celebrity or agent.

When you’re happy with your first contract and LOI, send it out to the talent agency or celebrity representative and see what they say. This process can take weeks or months because the celebrity will likely be busy with other things and may not make your partnership their top priority. However, if you both get to a place of even negotiations, the celebrity will sign the contract.

The last step of your partnership process involves preparing for the partnership and paying for whatever the celebrity requires. In non-COVID times, a brand would be responsible for transportation, flights, hotels, hair and makeup, meals, security, and more.

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Learn More About Celebrity Partnerships 

Now that you know more about celebrity partnerships, and you know where to start, check out more of our agency’s information on celebrity endorsements and past partnerships:

Celebrity partnerships are becoming more and more commonplace in today's marketing landscape. Because of this, it's vital to stay in-the-know when it comes to the entertainment industry. Be sure to sign up for our Hot in Hollywood newsletter and check out our learning platform to stay up to date on all things Hollywood! New call-to-action