MasterClass's Options for Product Placement and Celebrity Partnerships


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What is MasterClass?

Have you ever wanted to learn something new but you did not have the time? Especially in this time of a pandemic, there are no classes are being held anywhere except online. Now, you have an assortment of classes at your fingertips with MasterClass.

This online streaming service uses celebrities and the world’s best to teach classes in their craft, and you can learn from the comfort of your own home whenever you have the time. MasterClass delivers a top notch online learning experience that teaches everything from business, to cooking, acting, sports, photography and so much more. In this blog, Hollywood Branded explores the options that MasterClass delivers as well as how brands can get involved.

MasterClass Canva 

How Does It Work?

Back in 2014, David Rogier and Aaron Rasmussen formed MasterClass under Yanka Industries. The site was officially launched in 2015 and there were 300,000 sign-ups within the first few months of the release. Each class includes video content, interactive exercises, workbooks and sometimes interview sessions with the instructor. There are typically 10-25 video lessons that are usually about two to five hours in total.

The lessons are designed so that, even if you are a beginner, you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to your own life right away. It gives viewers that have a casual interest in certain topics the option to dive into things that they do not normally engage in with their everyday lives. This does not mean you are going to be a superstar immediately, but there are awesome pointers that you may have never considered before. The founding premise of MasterClass was to make Hollywood-quality courses featuring experts who are the best in their profession, which the company has continued to stick to over the course of the last five years.

Hollywood Meets Harvard?

In May of 2020, MasterClass announced they had raised an additional $100 million in new financing. According to Forbes, Rogier mentions that since the pandemic, demand for online classes surged. He goes on to say, “there are weeks we are doing 10X what we did last year in revenue.” According to Rogier says this now “puts us on the IPO path.” Rogier attributes their dramatic increase in profits to the pandemic keeping people at home. All the company’s revenue comes from a $180 annual subscription that allows for access to every course.

Deborah Quazzo of Chicago-based GSV Ventures says, “It’s Hollywood meets Harvard. Education online has not been adequately engaging and it has not driven the type of retention of movies and TV shows.” During the earlier stages, competitors were saying that subscribers would not sign up for courses from multiple instructors. Rogier will not discuss specifics but says most subscribers sign up for at least three classes in the course of a year.

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Who is Teaching?

The instructors range from Serena Williams, to Gordon Ramsey, to Spike Lee, Marc Jacobs, Usher and so many more. Anna Wintour talks about how to grow a business, Gordon Ramsey on how to cook, and David Sedaris on how to be funny. Whatever your passion is, there is most likely a celebrity or an expert teaching a class on it.

Gordon Ramsey's MasterClass

In an exclusive interview with ESPN, Steph Curry talks about his passion for sharing his knowledge of the game. "If I think about where I was when I was 13, if I had access to this type of curriculum, I would have been a much better player faster," he said. "It took me a while to learn how to practice and do the drills the right way. I want people to see how I invest in my game, how I train, what I do in my workouts and what's my mental approach. So when the opportunity with MasterClass came about to put a class together where I can show people my unique way of playing this game, it was [a] natural fit. The goal is for everybody to get better and enjoy basketball more. I want them to push and challenge themselves, and hopefully they see the game differently."

Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors

Do Celebrities Interact With Students?

MasterClass’s celebrities are not usually interacting with their students but there have been a few exceptions where favorites have been picked in class. For example, electronic music producer DeadMau5 reportedly invited one of his MasterClass students to record a track alongside him. Also, Serena Williams reportedly invited one of her students to play a game with her, which is pretty cool. It is definitely motivation to take a class knowing that there is the slightest possibility of meeting one of your favorite celebrities.

Rogier does not disclose how much he pays to the celebrities to become instructors but says that “It’s a partnership with them. Every deal is different.” According to the Hollywood Reporter three years ago, “MasterClass instructors got at least $100,000 up front and a share of at least 30 percent of revenue.” Rogier also mentions the challenge of getting instructors at first, but now he turns away nine out of 10 people who want to teach courses.

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How Can You Get Your Brand Involved?

In regards to marketing, MasterClass has an aggressive strategy that is extremely readily available for everyone to see. Pretty much every YouTube video you watch more than likely has a MasterClass ad waiting to be your commercial break. This is to show that they are not competitors, but in fact, complementary of each other and MasterClass uses YouTube to advertise on it.

For brands and product lines, think about the endless possibilities to have your product placed in videos or even be on screen during a celebrity’s class. There is also the idea of a celebrity endorsement or product placement in any type of video depending on the type of brand. For example, think about getting your water on the sidelines in sporting videos with Simone Biles, or your kitchen appliances and food products in with Massimo Bottura, as well as your audio equipment in with Christina Aguilera. With the extensive variety of classes, the options are limitless.

Christina Aguilera Master Class

What is The Benefit of MasterClass?

MasterClass not only offers lessons from the best, but it also gives viewers insight into these celebrity’s lives. This helps viewers understand their failures, shortcuts, and successes that have made them who they are today and how they got there. It is a great alternative to look into for your brand to get into the face of millions of viewers. Also, if you have never explored product placement before, this method is an organic way to integrate your brand into videos. This platform of teaching has really blown up over the last few months and will continue to grow with more and more businesses giving a work from home option.

What makes this idea so desirable is the idea that you can watch and learn anytime from anywhere. Classes are available on your smartphone, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku. You can even download specific lessons that you can watch when you don't have access to WiFi.

The world wants highly produced, celebrity-led classes, and consumers are willing to pay for it. MasterClass is an immersive online experience, which gives everyone the opportunity to learn from the world's most successful professionals. Rogier and Rasmussen have talked in numerous interviews, mentioning that they started this site to document the knowledge of great experts to serve as a time capsule after they’re gone. What a great option for future generations to have to learn from!

How Can Celebrities Improve Your Marketing Strategy?

Working with celebrities is extremely beneficial for brands in terms of sales. This is because celebrity endorsements work and they are more effective than you can imagine. Check out the blogs below our team wrote on celebrity partnerships.

There is so much more to product placement and celebrity endorsement partnerships than you may think, and it is important to understand the key tactics to best fit your brand. Download our Product Placement 101 Infographic today to start learning more!

Product Placement & Co-Promotions 101 Guide