Celebrity halo or brand parasite?
Posted by Alan Morrison on April 8, 2010
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We’ve often been asked to comment on celebrity sponsorship of brands. The main questions that clients and trade journalists put to us are: “Is it a good idea or a bad idea in general?”, “How do you choose the right celebrity?”, “What do you do if the celebrity behaves badly?” and so on.
At The Value Engineers we don’t see ourselves as experts in celebrity, media planning or sponsorship, we are experts in brand strategy. So our view naturally tends to be based on a brand-centric perspective: celebrity sponsorship can be valuable for a brand but brands should always be careful to ensure that their expensive campaign activity isn’t doing more to build the profile of the celebrity than it is to promote their brand strategy.
Some examples from the past where the balance may have begun to tip too far in the celebrity’s favour include Gordon Ramsay for Gordon’s Gin and David Beckham for MegaO3 frozen foods. However an astonishing new campaign may have tipped this balance further. To my knowledge, never in the discipline of celebrity sponsorship has one celebrity benefited so much from the campaign activity of a multi-national brand. The case in point is Nike’s new US TV spot, in which the brand appears to be sponsoring the public atonement of the beleaguered golfer, Tiger Woods.
Granted, the potential pay-off of Tiger’s heroic come-back is considerable, but the decision to launch a campaign quite like this before that happens represents an unmistakable sign that, when it comes to brand sponsorship of celebrities, the tail may have begun to wag the dog.