Sunday, May 15, 2016

Brand Marketers: Big Events and Big Celebrities are Key to Big Awareness

A key piece of strategy for the in-house marketing team of any major brand is implementing a specific image for the public to consume. By aligning the brand with public figures with certain key values, brand marketers can feel sure that their brand stays salient and is exposed to their desired audience. While the focus here is on fashion, the prevalence of pop culture allows all industries to benefit from celebrity and event association.

Steph Curry's partnership with Under Armour has led to an increase in the brand's sales

Brands should understand the power that celebrities hold over consumers, especially because this has increased exponentially with the advent of social media. The New York Times highlighted the “Marketing Power of Sports Stars” in a feature under their Fashion/Style category that focused on professional athletes and their style ambassadorships. In particular, the article mentioned Roger Federer’s failure to rip his Uniqlo shirt during Wimbledon as “an incredible moment where the athlete was trying to express himself and Uniqlo’s quality almost gets in the way,” said Justin Kerr, chief merchandising officer and co-marketing director of Uniqlo U.S.A. “We couldn’t have planned it.” This vignette shows the benefit of having celebrity relationships with brands. Brands receive organic, wide-reaching exposure that sends a loud and clear message to consumers.

Similarly, major events that draw hundreds of celebrity attendees have become prime opportunities for brand marketing efforts. Bethany Biron in Digiday discussed the implications of Coachella, one of the largest music festivals in the world, as an event with “critical mass...that fashion designers and retailers are clamoring to cash in” on. Marybeth Schmitt, North America communications director for H&M, described the meaning that brands can find in such events: “the festival’s roots may be in music but it has transcended into a full fashion and lifestyle experience.” Labels are able to make branded content for the show, seen in the H&M promotional photo above, as well as leverage celebrity “endorsements” during the event to gain exposure to the wide range of audiences that consume news on Coachella fashion.

The following are ways to use insights on your target market to align your brand with consumable and digestible media:

  • Choose one key event that draws audience members that would align with the core brand values. Which types of experiences does your intended market value? What kinds of events do they care about? And of these, which draw the most media attention, particularly media that they can consume and digest?

  • Utilize celebrity endorsements that again align with the core brand values; have them post on their social media channels. Celebrities can be seen as influencers for every aspect of a consumer’s life. Proving your product’s worth to a single celebrity will encourage many of their fans (who most likely attempt to live according to similar values as specific celebrities, even unknowingly) to regard the product highly. While this essentially is a form of advertising, it is more valuable than standard advertising because it gives the impression of a personal recommendation.

  • Promote using an integrated approach (similar to native advertising on internet) with the event/figure involvement. While events and celebrities are a good way to help the brand reach its market and strengthen its equity, this approach can be construed as overly orchestrated. Don’t use excessive hashtags or repost the exact same thing on every social media channel, as today’s consumers, who are both social media savvy and value brand honesty, will perceive it as a heavy-handed advertising attempt and will therefore disregard it.

    Sue Liu is a junior at Northwestern University studying Psychology, Business Institutions and Integrated Marketing Communications. Her primary interests lie in digital advertising and branding.

    Keywords: IMC, social marketing, branded content, social marketing, celebrities, fashion, influencer marketing, entertainment

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