Rob Glen / Aug 05, 2020
Welcome to Thirstie’s 3-part series on celebrity endorsement in the digital age. As we all know, celebrities have been used to endorse products for decades. In the early 1900s Mark Twain co-branded pens and Ty Cobb had his own line of tobacco products. The allure of a product endorsed by a famous person was powerful then; and an attraction that continues to this day.
This 3-part series will offer advice on how brands can successfully leverage celebrities and influencers, as well as highlight key things to watch out for when considering or managing a celebrity endorsement. Part one follows; be on the lookout for parts 2 and 3 in the coming weeks. **
Celebrity Endorsement defined
Celebrity endorsements are used by businesses of all shapes and sizes as a marketing strategy, providing endless benefits when executed effectively. The simple reality is that customers in all industries express a heightened interest for products or services endorsed by their favorite celebrities. Companies have the data to support the belief that the endorsement of their products by a well-known personality will help sell their goods and services.
There are different levels and models of celebrity endorsement that can impact the level of trust and credibility a brand portrays.
- Celebrity ownership provides a high level of credibility (the most successful example likely being the ‘Air Jordan’ brand partnership between Nike and Michael Jordan).
- Influencer endorsement, common for non-profit organizations, provides a platform for celebrities to support a cause (a fantastic example being Leonardo DiCaprio’s outspoken advocacy for Climate Change Awareness).
- Finally, there are pure unrelated endorsements by celebrities without any real connections to the product or service, as witnessed by Matthew McConaughey’s endorsement for Lincoln (It does makes sense that McConaughey, who starred in “The Lincoln Lawyer” film, has partnered up with, and become the pitchman for, Lincoln Motors over the last several years).
In each of these instances, the association with the celebrity provides the related brand or foundation a higher level of prestige and/or cache.
Impacts of celebrity endorsements in the beverage alcohol industry
Brands within the beverage alcohol industry use celebrity endorsements across the same model spectrum. Recently, partner celebrity ownership appears to be all the rage, with successful launches within various sectors of the spirits industry:
- Thirstie has partnered with Eire Born Spirits for the brand Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey, co-founded by Conor McGregor, Irish professional mixed martial artist and former Ultimate Fighting champion.
- Back to his Airness Jordan, Michael is one of five NBA owners who co-founded Cincoro Tequila. Jordan was openly enjoying his tequila during his interviews on the critically acclaimed Last Dance documentary.
- There are over 300 celebrity-backed brands in the industry, and Thirstie is already working with 10 of these brands, including Isiah Thomas for Cheurlin Champagne, NFL Hall-of-Famer Ty Law for V-One Vodka and Pitbull for Voli 305 Vodka.
Celebrity endorsement of beverage alcohol brands has gained popularity in the last few years and is now a commonplace marketing tactic.
Social Media and the Art of the ‘Influencer’
Social media offers a whole new avenue of celebrity endorsement, designed to meet the needs of millennials who demand purpose-alignment, credibility, and authenticity. Brands are now leveraging celebrity influencers in target audience circles to promote the products that influencers believe in, use, share and endorse.
As the former Global Marketing Director at BlackBerry, I successfully applied influencer marketing via celebrity endorsements on numerous occasions. We would seed new smartphone devices with these carefully selected celebrity influencers who would post their BlackBerry stories to their millions of fans on their various social media platforms. We partnered with well-known celebrities aligned with the BlackBerry consumer targets within sports (F1’s Lewis Hamilton), music (Alicia Keys), film (Adrien Grenier), business (Elon Musk), publishing (Neil Gamen) and even in politics (Barack Obama and the UK’s David Cameron). As a result of these celebrity endorsement strategies, BlackBerry’s consumer base quickly expanded.
We will return next week to take a deeper dive into the benefits as well as “watch-outs” of celebrity endorsements.
*Rob Glen — Chief Marketing Officer, Thirstie, Inc.
About Thirstie, @areyouthirstie
Thirstie, a New York based e-commerce company, is the leading technology and logistics solution provider for beverage alcohol brands, founded by Devaraj Southworth and Maxim Razmakhin in 2014. Thirstie helps brands to power consumer on-line transactions within an industry three-tier system complaint platform through a robust API and expansive retail network. The Thirstie platform also provides brands with transparency into all data, consumer insights analytics and ROI to improve performance marketing. For more information about Thirstie, please visit thirstie.com.