Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Celebrity Endorsements

With high-profile celebrity status, endorsements, sponsorship and advertising deals generally follow.  However sometimes the celebrity face becomes stronger than the brand itself.  If a brand is to select a celebrity to front their brand then they need to be 100% certain it they will resonate with the target audience and act as a suitable ambassador.

Sadly with some celebrities comes a fair share of controversy.  The likes of Tiger Woods and John Terry have brought shame upon themselves recently and haven’t reflected well on their brands.  The likes of Kerry Katona and David Beckham have also caused their brand associations to become strained over the years.  Some of these celebrities have done minor things which in the grand scheme of things aren’t huge, some of created furore bordering on national disgraces.

So why do brands continue to use celebrities? What are the risks? What are the benefits? And are there alternatives?

Why use celebrities?

Brands that produce or sell luxury goods often use celebrities.  They choose celebrities that they perceive share the same values as their products. Celebrities that offer the glamour, to portray their products as aspirational to the general public.  The perfume and cosmetic industries generally use glamorous or beautiful people to show how effective their products are.  These celebrities have generally been huge celebs from supermodels to hollywood stars.

Another key trick is to pick up on somebody that’s popular or hot at the moment.  Whilst I mentioned in the above post of perfume and cosmetics companies picking über glamour, brands like L’Oreal are experts at hand-picking people “of the moment”, classic examples include Cheryl Cole and at one point footballer David Ginola.  Garnier also pulled off the coup of grabbing a popular celebrity by enrolling Davina McCall.  There are other cases when companies get it wrong, remember Jason McAteer advertising shampoo? More bad decisions later in this post.

The potential

Get the celebrity right and your brand could be off to a flyer.  The endorsement is believable and customers want to be associated with the brand as much as the celebrity.  Get it wrong and the endorsement looks at best paid for and at worse ridiculous.  Of course it isn’t always down to the celebrity, sometimes it is as much the cheesy production of an ad that breaks down the credibility – Jamie Redknapp and Louise Redknapp holiday commercial anybody?  It can also be the innocent and bizzarrely naive actions that undermine the endorsement (David Beckham shaven his head whilst advertising Brylcreem).  Whatever the case brands need to have a plan in place to mitigate poor choices by either their agency or celebrity figurehead.

The potential is also great.  If you can get an up and coming act at the start of their rise you could benefit in two ways.  Ride the crest of their rise to fame and receive some quedos in terms of helping them achieve their goals.  If the tie-up works as it should in your strategy meetings then there is no reason why you can’t succeed.  Nike seem great at this. They consistently select sports stars that embody sporting excellence and in the main shy away from bad news stories.  They also execute their merchandising, promotion and Marketing strategies with clinical expertise.  Michael Jordan was perhaps the best example of this.  Jordan was an NBA superstar, Nike created an image for Jordan and in terms helped him reach World status, perhaps unrivalled by any NBA star either then or now.  They have also successfully used the Brazilian national football team to great effect.  Their ads show the squad performing awe-inspiring tricks whilst maintaining a genuine feel to what is being played out on TV.  However this particular tie has also caused controversy, with concerns over the depth of influence Nike has on the Brazilian national association.

Good tie-ins

So as mentioned previously good tie-ins are ones that match celebrities with the brand.  Maybe they share similar values or appeal to the same audience.  They match has to be believable and resonate with the audience.  Below are my suggestions of good tie-ins.

Nike and Micheal Jordan

For all the reasons highighted previousy, Jordan became bigger than an NBA star, bigger than the man himself.  Jordan became a ridiculously huge commercial engine.  The relationship was part of Nike’s desire to corner sporting excellence with their brand.  Jordan also gave Nike the urban edge, with Nike Air Jordan shoes the choice footwear for Hip Hop stars and fans.

L’Oreal and Cheryl Cole

Cheryl Cole has had her issues in her past, including allegations of racial assault.  However the Girls Aloud star has turned things around since becoming one of the key faces in the band and a judge on X-Factor.  Her showbiz marriage to controversial footballer Ashley Cole also made her a media darling.  With Ashleys alleged extra-marital activities she came from being and aggressor to a strong independent woman.  This mix of defined character and huge success was an instant pull for L’Oreal and despite Cole’s strong North East accent, she fitted the role perfectly.

Sainsburys and Jamie Oliver

Sainsburys have long battled the likes of Tesco to become a force in the highly competitive supermarket sector.  This has been helped in no small means by TV chef Jamie Oliver.  Jamie was always well liked as a TV personality, however he took a few risks that could have back fired.  Taking on the government and schools to improve school dinners propelled Jamie into the big time.  This good feeling towards Jamie has rubbed off on to Sainsburys.  The tie-in also works due to Jamie being famous for food, which is the staple component of Sainsburys.

Walkers and Gary Lineker

Walkers crisps have gone from another snack food company to the dominant player in UK crisps and snacks.  This incredible journey has gone almost hand-in-hand with taking local star and national hero Gary Lineker.  The ads and concepts have adapted over the years, but Lineker is a constant.  Even off the back of the ex-England stars marriage breakdown, Lineker has remained a popular figure.

Bad tie-ins

The tie-ins here are about as popular as a fart in a lift.  Some due to poor judgement in terms of celebrity, others due to actions after becoming associated to the brand.  Either way, just take a look and squirm or tell me how wrong I am.

Iceland and Kerry Katona

So when Iceland first pulled off the coup of landing Jungle queen Kerry their ad execs must have been rubbing their hands together.  They had one of the nations favourite and a normal down to earth girl made good.  Unfortunately, the public very quickly saw Kerry as a figure to loathe rather than love, not helped by her own misdemeanours.  Since then Katona has come out as having problems with various addictions, debt and failed relationships.  Iceland have since dropped Katona

Accenture and Tiger Woods

Accenture one of the world’s premier consulting firms paid a massive sum to use the image of undoubtedly the world’s best golfer, the Jordan of PGA and all round admired sports star, Tiger Woods.  Tiger has since been found to have a number of extra-marital affairs and has been treated for alleged sex addiction.  Tiger was all over the front pages for all the wrong reasons.  Tiger was promptly dropped by Accenture.

What is the alternative?

So as discussed the potential for a star to gain bad press through either misguided naivity or more worryingly through poor actions that damage their public equity as well as a brands.  So despite all the benefits should you do something else?

Well brands such as Halifax and B&Q have used their own staff to varying degrees of success.  This isnt always the best route as you aren’t guaranteed to find a personality big enough to make an impact or if you do, they could become primadonnas.  This provides equal issue of reliance on a face to lead your brand.

So how about using a character?  Advertising seems to go through cyclical phases where characters become the force and celebrities go into the background.  At the moment some of the most successful ad campaigns feature characters.  Immediate campaigns that spring to mind include Meerkat, Compare the Market, Opera singer, Go Compare and Churchill the nodding dog, Churchill Insurance.  Bizarrely, all of these are finance related.  These factors can be as problematic as celebrities.  With characters you are generally expected to tell a story and improve on one campaign to another.  The non-finance ad that springs to mind is Cillit Bang.  The ad campaign also pushed Barry Scott in to becoming a cult figure, especially within student communities.  However an outburst by the character on social media and the uncovering that Barry was indeed made up has meant to concept has backfired.

Another alternative, which may sound groundbreaking is concentrate on your company, your business and promote what is good or different about it.  Or pick a theme that can create a platform as opposed to a one-off.

Potential future tie-ins

So to sign off, I thought I would suggest a few light hearted tie-ins.

Dolmio and Joe Calzaghe – Dolmio’s animated Italians would be no match for World Champion boxer Calzaghe.  Would his Welsh accent generate credibility issues?

Red Bull and Robbie Williams – Robbie made a particularly highly charged performance on X Factor.  This could easily be the result of a Red Bull marathon.

Specsavers and Arsene Wenger – The Arsenal manager is well known for saying, “I didn’t see anything” – maybe Specsavers could set the Frenchman’s sight back to 20:20.

Kalms and Naomi Campbell – World renowned laid back super model Campbell would be the perfect ambassador for Kalms.  She could even undertake roadshows highlighting to the public how to avoid conflict.

Disney Channel and Amy Winehouse – A match made in heaven.  The world’s cleanest and happiest TV channel with, um, err, Amy Winehouse.


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Do us a Flavour

Walkers – Do us a flavour

So in the first of the case studies to illustrate my 5 F’s theory, comes Walkers and “Do us a flavour”.

The Context

Walkers has always enjoyed a special closeness with the British public.  A relationship that has brought them huge commercial success and an almost dominant position in the crisp market.  Unlike most dominant players in their sector, there seems relatively little animosity towards Walkers.

Part of this has been down to product development but this significant position has also been achieved through great marketing.  Picking up on the status of national hero Gary Lineker was a masterstroke, and it is a relationship that still lives on today.  Walkers are responsible for creating some magic moments with some of the in-demand public profiles.  The classic example of this was when Walkers created a football execution involving Gary Lineker and a tearful Gazza (Paul Gascoigne).  Other celebrities such as Charlotte Church and more recently Cat Deeley have appeared.

Rather than develop the same theme and just extend it, Walkers created a real point of difference.

The campaign

In 2008, Walkers “Do us a flavour” campaign moved their advertising on by taking participation to a whole new level.  Capturing the mass love of social media and User-Generated-Content (UGC), Walkers created a campaign that involved the public and created a genuine national debate.  The beauty of the campaign was that it didn’t live in one space or develop through one-channel it almost became part of the British way of life.  The campaign obviously lived online.  However it also crossed TV ads, in-store, outdoor, radio,  mobile and even IVR (Interactive Voice Response).

The fact that the public suggested over 1.2m flavours (that equates to 2% of the UK population submitting a flavour) and over 1m votes on the final shortlist, proves what a storm the campaign created.

The campaign essentially became the first large-scale initiative to put the British public in control.  The election process was clear and straightforward.  Crowd sourcing at its best.  In hindsight this was a masterstroke as the campaign was also live when realtiy TV was at its peak.  All shows that centre on the population (viewers) being in control.

On top of all these factors, Walkers didn’t throw away the heritage and familiarity of its previous campaigns, Gary Lineker remained a focal point of the campaign.

So why did it work?

Well, partly down to the fact that Walkers spent a hell of a lot of cash on the campaign.  However, you could argue that this was no more than they would have spent on a standard campaign.  So Fortune was a factor in terms of spend.

For me the F’s that really made the difference were Fame.  The chance that “normal” people could get a massive amount of coverage regardless of whether they won.  Their creations, designs or concepts would reach hundreds of thousands of people, very few opportunities like that exist, unless you have an immense Talent (then maybe you could get on X-Factor).  The second success factor was Fortune (not the campaign spend).  The winner secured a huge £50,000 prize.  If that wasn’t enough, they also got 1% share of the revenue for all future sales, in theory, thats the pension sorted.

In my view the combination of social media nuances, putting the people in control and a massive fortune to the winner was a sure fire hit.  Yes the campaign spend did help.

And the winner is…

I suppose after waxing lyrical about the campaign it is only fair to reference the winning flavour – its was of course – Builder’s Breakfast.


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5 F’s of Social Media

5 F’s of Social Media

Over a few posts I will highlight a number of case studies highlighting examples where brands have successfully implemented a social media concept.  To help illustrate the cases I may also identify a couple of the social media disasters.  A great recent example is the DSGi Facebook group where employees openly criticised customers.

However in this post I would like to highlight something that I call the 5 F’s of social media.  Don’t worry I’m not going to teach 5 new profanities beginning with the letter F.  Us marketeers like simple number-letter concepts to help add context to a piece of theory (4 P’s of Marketing).  This will also help me frame the case studies in future posts.

My 5 F’s theory does exactly that.  It highlights 5 distinct criteria – that if all are met, I believe most social media campaigns or activity will succeed.  Each campaign doesn’t necessarily have to hit all the buttons and success could also be achieved by simply turning up the volume on one or two of the areas.

Familiarity

To make any social media/participative marketing campaign a success brands really need to understand their target audience and the objectives of engaging with them.  If you can really get to grips with who your audience is and what they want then you will gain a genuine connection.  With this connection the community or audience should do your work for you, participate and  help towards growing the campaign.Pepsi Amp App

The best method to underline the importance of this particular F is when people get it wrong.  Pepsi’s recent campaign “helping men pull girls” which helped alienate half their audience (namely women).  They obviously had great intentions to undertake something cool and exciting on social media utilising app technology – however it seems to be a classic case of letting the technology rule the idea.

Even if your intention isn’t to run a ‘cool’ participative marketing campaign but to have a presence within social media, you still need to be familiar with your target audience.  Remove the word media from social media and you have social.  People using these channels generally do so to communicate with each other.  They align themselves with likeminded people and as a consequence, generally don’t like companies just plying them with promotional messages.  Brands need to earn trust and the right to have a place talking to people via social.  You need to be familiar to know what messages people want to receive, above all you must be open enough to reflect the audience wishes and feedback.

Fortune

Fortune covers two angles.  Participative marketing campaigns can be amplified if brands put budget behind them.  Social is not free.  You need to make the same investment in those campaigns as you would any other.  Don’t be so blinkered to imagine all promotion has to take place through social media.  People engaging with social media also consumer other media, the ObaWalkers Do Us A Flavourma campaign perfectly illustrates.  The campaign lived within social media, utilising strengths of various platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, however substantial investment was made in traditional channels to support this activity.

That being said, the investment doesn’t necessarily need to be in promotional activity.  Participative marketing can benefit from having a great (relevant) payoff for the participants.  A prize or even an ongoing cash amount for people submitting entries (Walkers – Do Us a Flavour).  This incentivises participants to think in detail about their response or become more creative.  The lure of some ‘fortune’ will also help spread word of mouth associated with your campaigns.

Fame

In 1968, Andy Warhol once famously created the phrase, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”  This seems to be the undertone for the society we currently live in.  With the rise of reality TV shows and YouTube heroes, everybody does have their opportunity and indeed millions are positively striving for their shot at fame.  Just look at some of the hopefuls on XFactor.

With this in mind, if you can offer X Factor Logothe chance of fame as part of your social media strategy, no matter how small, their is a greater chance of success.  As with the familiarity section, the accolade has to be in tune with your audience.  There is no point providing the platform to be an Exhibitor in the Tate to a group of stereotypical football fans.  Neither would a DJ contest be of any interest to a group of traditional BBC Radio 4 listeners.

If you get it right, the element of fame can really engage with your audience.  Even if the fame is only restricted to a particular social network.  The YouTube phenonomen is a classic example of this.

Fun

As with most activity online, making it fun is a key consideration.  If you can entertain your audience you are more likely to gain the talkability factor.  A sense of fun adds an element of personality to a brand.  This does not necessarily mean the concept has to be funny, more just fun, engaging and entertaining to the audience.

Again, being in-tune with your audience is crucial.

Forwardability

If you have one or all the of the above elements cracked to a good level then you should have produced activity that has the potential to be forwarded.  Your presence needs to be in peoples’ e-mail boxes.  On their phones and referenced on their individual social media profiles.  Your need to be so current to the audience and reflect what they want that they are proud to be associated with the brand.  The audience will do the work for you.

Remember, get it wrong and they are just as likely to forward to their friends but paint a very negative and potentially damaging response.

The package

So this was an initial attempt at placing some theory behind social and participation marketing.  This is by no means exhaustive and I will hopefully come back from time to time to refine the concept of the 5 F’s.  I will also be looking at some case studies to critique and test my theory of the 5 F’s, so if you have any candidate campaigns or brands, please feel free to contact me.