Should your business get a celebrity affiliate? Maybe...or potentially not. Here's what Noel Shu "The Prince of Luxury" whose clientele includes billionaires, celebrities, and royal families, has to say.
Shu's business introduces fine wines, spirits, jewelry and high-end timepieces to the global luxury market. According to Shu, the purpose of celebrity affiliation is all about psychology.
"Beneath the pretense of glam, money and prestige, a purchase boils down to one thing: familiarity. It is mental association at work. When a person is constantly reminded that their favorite actor is wearing or using a product, they begin gravitating towards the item themselves."
Here's how mental association works
You may see a particular cologne ad many times, but when a celebrity you are familiar with is attached, you begin to notice it. That's the hook. The homerun comes when you are exposed to the ad for extended periods of time until finally, you give the product a try.
This has played out well for major brands like Proactiv, which launched its skin care line with Jessica Simpson and has continued to build its celebrity endorsement each year with the addition of Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Adam Levine. The result: Proactiv revenues have surged an average of 93 percent a year, from $24M in 2010 to $627M in 2015.
Smaller brands can use this strategy, too. Less than a year after founders Paul Trible and Paul Watson started shirt business Ledbury, they sent samples to Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist of MSNBC's "Morning Joe." When Geist became a customer and mentioned the shirts on the air, Ledbury's business grew 20 percent.
Recently, Shu debuted his new wine Majestic Ruby by Un Joyau Majestueux at a Pre-Oscars event with numerous celebrities. Why?
"For any product, there are two groups of people you should appeal to because they can accelerate your success the fastest," he said. "The first and most apparent are celebrities. No matter what, the rest of the world is keeping tabs on the rich and famous. In order to be more like them, many go out of their way to get what celebrities have."
Based on his own experience, when someone famous uses an unknown brand or product, the sales of that product will rise within 24 hours.
"Second, and equally important, are the critics or experts on whatever it is you're selling," he says. "No matter how much fanfare or glitz a product gets from being in the limelight, it's the opinion of experts and influencers on the product itself that keeps it there."
In simple math, it works like this: if a celebrity uses your product, sales could shoot from 500 units to 5,000 in day. But the rise will quickly fall back to 500 units if the product is mediocre. But to have the product stay at 5,000 units or even rise further, expert consumers will need to agree with the celebrity's choice.
How do you get a celebrity connection?
One of the biggest challenges is getting around the celebrity "keepers." You can mail your samples or propositions to the celebrity's published contact point, which is easy enough to find through the web. But you may get there faster by going to events that provide you with direct access to celebrities, such as sponsor tables at the Oscars and Grammys or the Sundance Film Festival reception events. At these events, you will only have a moment to pitch. Use that window to frame an opportunity that is low on the celebrity's time commitment and high on ROI.
When you make your pitch, celebrities will show interest in promoting a brand for one of three reasons, Shu says: 1) Because it pertains to something they believe in or have an interest in, 2) You write a big enough check or make a compelling enough equity offer, or 3) You meet them in person and demonstrate a level of passion and insight that intrigues them.
For example, Annette Giacomazzi, the creator of CastCoverz, is a scrappy entrepreneur who's been able to secure celebrity attention with no equity or monetary investment. Giacomazzi got her business idea from her 10-year-old daughter's leg injury, when she cheered her daughter up by decorating her cast. When she learned of celebrities with injuries, she reached out and offered her assortment of blinged-out covers for their boots and casts. Forced to wear their casts on camera, celebrities have been quick to accept and Giacomazzi's product line, "which sells 92 percent to first-time and one-time customers" has been able to rise with the help of celebrity pics.
Are endorsements ever a bad idea?
Yes, if the company 1) invests to much money, 2) sells a commodity product that is hard to recall (does anybody remember the telephone ads in which Jamie Curtis does a pin drop? Neither do we), or 3) the celebrity is suddenly involved in a scandal or falls out of vogue (such as Jared and Subway, or, for awhile, Paula Deen).
On the whole, however, the growing pervasiveness of visual media and internet-everywhere makes product appearances and celebrity endorsements more valuable than ever before. If you haven't considered it yet, perhaps there's a celebrity endorsement in your company's future as well.