Best practices for determining if celebrity endorsement for your brand is the road to fame.

Authenticity trumps celebrity. Celebrity can certainly amplify a brand, but using celebrity simply for the sake of their fame is not going to give your brand long-term value. Collaboration with a celebrity should to be viewed as a strategic partnership where the association between the brand and the celebrity is authentic and relevant. That authenticity will be truer when the brand appeals to a celebrity’s passions. Your customers aren’t stupid. So don’t treat them like they are. They will see through anything that’s un-authentic.

The success of celebrity collaboration also depends heavily on the compatibility between the brand and the celebrity in terms of identity, personality, positioning in the market (of the brand and its competitors) and lifestyle. Will the relationship make sense in the consumer’s mind? The best collaborations are symbiotic, providing value to both parties. This builds relevancy and ultimately long-term value. It’s a tool but not the only tool. The more narrowly you get associated with a single celebrity, the more you put the brand at risk if something goes wrong. Celebrity endorsement is not a panacea. It’s one branding tool and it should be treated as such.

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You’re buying their whole life, not a moment in time. The fireball that was Tiger Woods’ career post-exposure of his affairs shows that when it comes to celebrity, you have to look at the whole picture. Famous or not, they are just people and
that means celebrities can misbehave. When you align your brand with a celebrity, you’re aligning with the entire person and connecting your brand to their whole life, not just where they are in the moment of signing the endorsement.

Expand your mind.

Traditional means of branding with celebrity have gone out the window along with Madison Avenue-style advertising. The ubiquitous nature of digital content and the fact that brands are having to generate their own content online and on mobile means that companies should be thinking beyond plain vanilla endorsement deals. Throw out pre-conceived notions about how the relationship should or can work and by all means don’t lock into one concept. If you do, you could be missing out on other potential channels or unique content arrangements that could be very successful in amplifying the brand.Think about the ways you can leverage your celebrity relationship to extend content ideas. Things like YouTube videos and documentaries that suggest a celebrity’s relationship to a brand ring more authentic than a direct endorsement.

Take Flight on Twitter, Face-Off on Facebook.

The growth of social media has dramatically changed how celebrities interact with their fans. Data from Nielsen Media Research indicates that it’s not only the celebrities themselves that are valuable to campaigns, their online fans and followers are significant assets as well: 64 percent of adult U.S. internet users who follow a celebrity also follow a brand. Celebrity fans are also more likely to offer advice and opinion to fellow online consumers and fans, and were significantly more likely to comment and post on social networking sites (86 percent more) and view consumer-generated video. This is a rich audience that, if ignited by celebrity engagement, can quickly amplify your brand message.

Lawyer up.

It goes without saying: When you’re making the deal, get the agents and lawyers in the room. This is absolutely essential to protecting the relationship and the brand against negative publicity should the celebrity’s conduct or public image turn sour. Draft effective, air-tight endorsement contracts, keeping in mind the possibility for any unforeseeable negative events. And set the tone of negotiations from the beginning: We will give money for charity but not cash, for example.