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Having a celebrity attend a brand sponsored event is half the battle. Getting assets that will live beyond the event is the long term win. Without an upfront plan in place, tens of thousands of dollars will be wasted, as celebrities won’t do anything outside of their contracts after the ink has dried.
In reality, there are a lot of ways to mess up a celebrity endorsement based on little things you just didn't think of. In this blog, Hollywood Branded has provided an 8 step guide to leverage celebrity talent at your brand's next event for a partnership win-win.
Brands invite celebrities to events for many reasons, but brand managers need to be sure to have a plan for the celebrity talent at the event and communicate it in advance to not only the celebrity, but to the entire team managing the event.
The requested services from the celebrity should keep those reasons as the focal point, but also include extra’s that will allow the celebrity engagement to truly shine for years down the road. Once an offer is made to a celebrity, additional asks cannot be made without an offer of additional monetary compensation. The best option is to ask for the moon - within reason – and then continue to negotiate the final terms.
The first step is to get the celebrity there and the best way to do it is to hire a car service. It is an extra expense, but ensures the brand more control over what time arrival will occur, juggle last minute changes to schedules. A train of those shiny black hired cars pulling up outside the event get a lot of notice. Hire one company to provide transportation, and include in the budget waiting time. The car service will drop off the celebrity and then wait nearby for their return.
Prior to arrival, the car service should provide the designated car number the celebrity is arriving in, so that the greeter will know who is in each arriving car. Make sure there is at least one designated point to greet each celebrity at the vehicle and escort them to their next appearance – the red carpet.
Once the celebrity arrives, make sure there is an area cordoned off for photographers, and set up a large step and repeat with the brand logo and a red carpet to give the true Hollywood feel. Not only does it give that true Hollywood feel, but when the press coverage posts the next day, over 90% of the images will be of the celebrities walking the red carpet. This allows those perfect branded photo moments that will live beyond the event, and which will also live online to be picked up by other press outlets in the future.
The red carpet press walk is the first thing the celebrity should do upon arriving at the event, and the contract should state that the celebrity is required to walk the red carpet and be open to interviews with attending press. Be prepared to provide a media list to the celebrity, with the knowledge that some outlets may be designated no-goes.
Celebrities often have terrific social media fan bases. And when these fans exist in large numbers, the celebrities’ price points may rise. Decide if social media by the celebrity is a requirement before you submit the initial offer. If this request is made after discussions begin, the celebrity will always ask for more money on top of what is already being paid.
The brand manager will need to be provided a cheat sheet of what the ideal social media postings may look like. Often brand managers mistakenly write these in a brand-centric corporate tone – not remembering the celebrity is a 3rd party totally unaffiliated with the brand. Instead, the goal is to have fun with the post and put it in the celebrities’ own voice. It is proven that the more organic posts are more impactful and embraced by celebrity fans and followers. The brand manager should take a step back and only include the really pertinent details – what needs to be hash tagged and what social media handle to include. An obvious point often missed by brands – make sure there is a relevant social media branded site to reference included.
Realistically determine how much social media is needed. Is it one post the morning of or would live tweeting during the event seem more organic? A selfie or picture from the event is an organic option to post during or after the event. Again the goal is to be representative to the celebrity’s typical style – the celebrity is not going to post a dozen times.
Celebrities may be wary about holding a brands product as they don’t want their attendance to become an outright endorsement that may later be taken advantage of. This requirement should be included up front in the offer letter, along with a safeguard clause in the contract that the photos will only be used to promote PR around the event. Having a celebrity-friendly area to play with and see the brand in a more private area, staged with a photographer hanging by, is also key.
Does the celebrity need to speak or even MC the event? If so, a script will need to be written, and a soft outline for the celebrity to become familiar with the content being discussed. Even if the event is not a speaking engagement, talking points should be provided to each celebrity so that they are prepared for red carpet interviews or engaging with other attendees.
Does the celebrity need to engage in meet-and-greets with executives or VIP attendees? Determine when this is going to happen and where. If a key executive needs to be photographed with the celebrities, have it happen at the end of the red carpet with an in-house photographer on hand to capture the images.
If the event is large, provide a retreat space so the celebrity can sit down and rest away from all of the attention. A cordoned off area that can still be seen by attendees is ideal, and VIP’s can intermingle with them there, as well.
Nabisco used this to their full advantage during popular boy band 5 Seconds of Summer's tour with a branded photo booth and meet and greet.
You may think that all celebrities want to talk to the media - but it is just not so. This is an important part of your negotiation, and if you miss it, you will likely miss the interviews with the talking points desired.
Be sure to outline what outlets an interview will be scheduled with, and what the key talking points are that need to be covered.
Once a celebrity is secured, each will need to be managed by a single point person assigned at the event who is not celebrity awestruck. The celebrity will need to be told what to expect, led to each activation point, and followed up on throughout the night regarding any needs or issues. This point should also be in charge of introductions for executives and key VIP’s.
The easiest way to oversee and activate the entire celebrity wrangling process is to work with a seasoned entertainment marketing agency that has done dozens of events and knows the layout of the land, what can go wrong and how to make it right. Working with a company that has experience in this space will provide the desired end results.
Celebrity endorsements are more effective than you may think! Check out these blogs on celebrity endorsement deals for brands:
Are you interested in learning how to successfully partner celebrities to your brand - without spending a million? And exactly how much SHOULD you pay? What about learning more about ways to safeguard a celebrity endorsement partnership? Then you should check out our Influencer Marketing School, where we offer in depth discussion about everything you need to know about celebrity partnerships to ensure your next brand deal is a success.
Stacy Jones, Hollywood Branded's founder and CEO, has over twenty six years of leadership experience building global entertainment branding campaigns for top Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of brands. Her career started after receiving her BFA in Theater Production & Scenic Design from the University of Arizona. Acknowledged as an expert in the field, she has appeared on CNN and MSNBC; spoken at conferences around the globe from Germany to Beijing; and has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, Financial Times, The Economist, Brandweek, Advertising Age, Variety, B&C and Mediaweek amongst others. Originally from Texas, you will still hear her ya’ll as she gathers the team for strategy planning sessions. Like all true entrepreneurs, Stacy is an adventurer at her core – having sky dived, hang glided off bi-planes, swam with crocs while rafting the Zambezi in Africa, photographed grizzly bears in Alaska, trekked Mayan ruins in Belize, explored the ocean as an avid scuba diver, and who loves owning an advertising agency where she swims with a different type of Hollywood shark on a daily basis.