Will Celebrity Star Power Help Build Your Brand?

Tracy Stokes
The power of celebrity is like catnip for marketers. Celebrity or athletic association adds an aspirational edge through outright paid endorsement or coveted “as seen on” editorial placement. In the world of beauty, brands from Cover Girl to L’Oreal add a sheen of glamour to their brands through celebrity spokesmodels. In the field of sports marketing, brands from Nike to Gatorade borrow equity from high-powered athletes to bolster their athletic credentials. And in retail, mass retailers from Macy’s to Sears offer eponymous product lines from celebrities as diverse as Sean Combs to the ubiquitous Kardashians. Q scores are tracked, contracts are negotiated, and millions of dollars exchange hands.  But is it worth it?  
 
If you ask consumers how important celebrity endorsement is to their brand selection, most will vehemently deny it. In fact, our North American Consumer Technographics® data shows that only 19% of consumers rate celebrity or athlete endorsement as important when picking a brand. But most people will probably tell you that advertising doesn’t affect them either. So we decided to dig a little deeper. Forrester conducted a driver analysis in the big-box retail category to identify which category attributes and behaviors have the most meaningful impact on key outcomes like being a more trusted or essential brand. Our research showed that in big-box retail, celebrity or athletic endorsement:
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Q&A With Jermaine Dupri, Grammy-Award Winning Producer, Hip-Hop Artist, And CEO Of So So Def Recordings And Global 14

Christine Overby

Celebrity and marketing go way back. That said, yesterday's celebrity endorsements are giving way to something more complex, sometimes complementary, and sometimes competitive -- witness classic alcohol brands fighting for shelf with Barrymore Pinot Grigio (Drew Barrymore), Mansinthe (Marilyn Manson), and 901 Tequila (Justin Timberlake). Celebrities are in familiar water with social networking, having long created content and acquired fans. Yet that relationship is changing too, as for some, setting up Facebook pages gives way to building their own communities in the same way they've built brands. The best example of this today is Jermaine Dupri and his new social networking community Global 14. Later this month to explore this initiative, I'll be sharing the stage with JD (never thought I'd type those words!). Here's a sample of what we'll discuss at the Forrester Interactive Marketing Summit in London: 

CO: What made you decide to set up your own social network, as opposed to using public tools like Facebook?
 
JD: I wanted and needed to speak to the millions of people who have been listening to my music for the past 20 years. As I studied the power of the “celebrity follow,” I decided that Facebook didn’t sound like what I was looking for. I wanted my own community where I could tap into the power of the celebrity follow. The difference between creating your own community and finding friends on someone else’s network is like night and day. My own network is a place where being a member really matters – a place that is just as much yours as it is mine. 
 
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