Celebrities as brand gurus and marketing directors?

by Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, Be Branded  |

An interesting trend is starting to develop in the world of branding and marketing. Several large brands are using celebrities to become their brand gurus and marketing Creative Directors. Jay-Z is working for Anheuser-Bush. Justin Timberlake has been named Creative Director at Callaway Golf. Lady Gaga is overseeing creative at Polaroid. Will.I.Am is moonlighting with Intel. Victoria Beckham is offering creative marketing advice to Land Rover. These are just a few examples of this trend.

There are a few pluses to this. Celebrities have proven they know how to create a personal brand. They also have a large following. Even some have real talent in the area of marketing and branding such as Gene Simmons. On the flip side, it shows me, many brands are becoming desperate and are reaching for anything. Often, these celebrity relationships don’t make sense in reinforcing what the brand stands for and is an obvious “gimmick” in promotion and PR. What brand alignment does Justin Timberlake have to offer golf devotees? If Callaway Golf is trying to become more “fashionable”, then it kind of makes sense, but then you lose the hard-core golfers who identify with the brand as professional equipment and not just some accessory. Just because Will.I.Am uses a computer, doesn’t mean he understands the core brand essence of Intel and it’s relationships with manufactures and end users.

To me, these companies are forgetting who they are and what they stand for and by reaching out to celebrities who don’t really reinforce the brand, they are devaluing their brand even more. Pretty soon, it’s not long until they become an also-ran commodity. I’m not against celebrities becoming brand gurus or marketing Creative Directors. Like many of us, they may have several talents they are good at. The key is to match up the celebrity who embodies your brand already. It can’t be manufactured. That’s fake and that will tell your true believers they can no longer trust what you say or who you are. The other main point is just because they are good at branding themselves doesn’t mean they understand and know how to brand and market your company.

Celebrities. Use them in your marketing. Use them in your promotions. Yes. Put them in charge of your marketing and branding just because they are celebrities. No. (unless they have real marketing talent.). Above all, what they stand for has to be in alignment with what you stand for.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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