Is It An Ad... Or Do They Just Really Like That Brand?
There are many times when real life and fiction cross over one another into the blurred lines of advertising. And this is even more so in the world of celebrity endorsements, when a brand may partner with a celebrity to endeavor to make that partnership look oh-so-very real.
Why? Because authenticity is key. When a celebrity's fan base gets a whiff of a brand deal that is not authentic and natural, they can turn away. And that makes brands go to a lot of efforts to make sure their celebrity partnership deals feel real, and which has lead to 'stealth advertising." In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses how brands use celebrities for stealth advertising endorsements of their products.
Fact Or Fiction
“Stealth ads” have been a common strategy PR agencies have put in practice for their brands for decades. Either through gift lounges or direct gifting, product is sent to celebrities with the hopes that they may step out into the public eye wearing the product or holding it. The brand may or may not see any outcome for this, or they may luck in and win big. Ensuring your product is provided to numerous Hollywood talent through strategic gifting opportunities is certainly the most affordable option to lead to wins.
But then there is another facet that takes this strategy to an entirely new level, to a true celebrity endorsement, where the brand pays the celebrity to wear or hold that product – and ensure that a photo is taken of them doing so that can be shared with digital or print media outlets. And often a paparazzi cameraman is called in to be at the precise location at a specific time to get that hard-to-capture branded image.
In Your Face Social Media
This is entirely different than having that celebrity post through their social network, which has certainly modernized and made much easier the practice of celebrity branded moments. It is more of a digital/print media strategy, with a very organic seeming usage turned into a branding moment. And it is not cheap, and requires a marketing budget to pull off successfully with well-known talent. But it works because it is organic in feeling.
Some brands carry this over to their social influencers pages as well – but they have to deal with the issue that the FTC has in the last few years been stepping in to more so regulate those product placement practices on social media – with #ad or #sponsor tags being required. So the practice is certainly evolving. We often work with brands who are very concerned that their branded social media post with an influencer or celebrity will not be viewed well because it legally has to have the #ad or other call out identifying that it is paid. But interestingly, studies are showing that fans are not tuning out on messaging that has those call outs included. And brands (and their agencies) need to make sure they are included as they don’t want to be served with a fine.
A (Possible) Case Study In Action
Back in February, Selena Gomez was spotted leaving an IHOP (where she's been spotted before) holding an IHOP coffee mug, logo front and center.
Now, Selena Gomez having paparazzi in place to capture the very moment she leaves that IHOP, with that branded mug in her hand, does seems like a big coincidence. Because let’s just face it – no one typically leaves IHOP with a branded mug in their hand! And while it seems like paparazzi are on every corner in Los Angeles, they aren’t quite that prolific.
It could be that the waitress or manager was so enamored that they did some quick thinking and pressed the mug into her hand before she left – but is it that likely she’d randomly take it? Maybe… maybe not. She has been known to frequent IHOP’s throughout her past.
Or maybe she really DID want that last sip of coffee for her walk, as media outlet The Blast reported "We called over to the IHOP, who said they were aware Selena swiped the mug. We’re told she asked for it because she hadn’t finished her beverage, and the employees graciously let her take it on the house. BTW, those mugs are not even sold in the store … so Selena definitely got the VIP treatment."
Regardless - celebrity partnership or celebrity fan, having this be a quandary for even those in the know shows that a partnership with IHOP and Selena would be one that is truly organic and a fit that her fan base will embrace. Which IHOP should keep in mind, as a true celebrity partnership only works when a celebrity can authentically say they support the brand they work with.
If Selena Gomez’s IHOP moment is truly organic, and happened by chance, IHOP should be ecstatic. It’s a true golden moment, and quite frankly even if it was paid for, the fact that Selena Gomez has been seen in IHOPS in the past makes it feel very real and natural. And that’s the win.
Celebrities Endorsement Partnerships
Brands now have a social media alternative that is more controllable, and may actually hit a larger consumer base -- with celebrities posting themselves and acting as their own media outlet. This has likely lowered the number of ‘stealth ads’ being shot. But it is still a common practice, with some moving parts of paparazzi and celebrity that have to be multi-tasked and managed.
Could YOUR Brand Benefit From A Little Celebrity Love?
There are several options for brands who want to partner with celebrities -- and not necessarily spend six figures in doing so. From product placement on TV, to sponsoring the events celebrities attend, to social media partnerships, brands today have tremendous options on leveraging that star quality on their own brand.
Be sure to check out these blogs our team wrote on how to best work with celebrities!
- 6 Steps To Safeguard Celebrity Endorsement Partnerships.8 Steps to Leverage Celebrity Talent To A Brand's Advantage
- Agency Interview: Los Angeles Business Journal Celebrity Swag Bags
- Cause Related Marketing Campaigns Getting The Celebrity Treatment
- 12 Steps To Celebrity Event Sponsorships
- 8 Steps To Inviting A Celebrity To Your Event And Saving Some Money In The Process
Are you interested in integrating your brand's product with a celebrity but simply don’t know where to start? There is so much more to product placement and celebrity endorsement partnerships than you may think and it is important to be educated about the key tactics to best fit your brand.One of the most affordable ways is with product placement - by having your brand appear on screen with that celebrity. Download our Product Placement 101 eBook today to start learning more!