Why Brands Need to Be Extra Careful When Pairing With Celebrities

By Alexa Matia, July 27, 2017
It’s a tale as old as time: Brand meets celebrity, celebrity says something offensive, and the brand is left to pick up the pieces of a broken relationship.

As a brand, pairing up with a public figure that has any amount of influence can be a risk. It can lead to more brand awareness, but here’s where the common saying about good publicity is false. Any publicity isn’t always good publicity.

While working with social media influencers is a risk in itself, working with celebrities, who are usually more well-known than most social influencers, carries an even larger risk.

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As they’re in the spotlight more, celebrities often use their fame to stand for or against certain social and political viewpoints. When you pair your brand up with them, you risk mixing business with personal viewpoints.

Before you pair up with any celebrities, here are just a few cautionary tales from other brands.

Kendall Jenner and Pepsi

It’s always a risk for a brand to make a stand on a social issue, and Pepsi took that risk when they made a commercial that commented on Black Lives Matter’s stand against police violence.

Pepsi paired up with Kendall Jenner to create a commercial that you have to see to believe.

 Source: YouTube

Alexander Smith of NBC News summed it up pretty well when he said, “If the Black Lives Matter movement were led by a 21-year-old white supermodel armed with a can of fizzy soda, then maybe everyone would just get along.”

The problem wasn’t that Pepsi decided to comment on a social issue. It was who they chose to make that statement. (Although, suggesting a can of Pepsi can solve everything was probably a bad idea, too.)

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Kendall Jenner is well-known as a model and entrepreneur, but she has almost never stood for, or against, any social or political issues. Because of this, she received quite a bit of backlash over the ad, and so did Pepsi.


Source: Empire Boo Boo Kitty

If your brand is going to take on a social issue, make sure you’re choosing spokespeople who have consistently proven to be social pioneers in the past. However, you’ll also want to make sure you’re not capitalizing on a sensitive subject by having your brand or product front and center.

Kathy Griffin and CNN

You’ve most likely heard of Kathy Griffin’s scandal, but if you haven’t, she recently found herself in boiling hot water over a photo of her posing with Trump’s bloody head. (Which, if you choose to look up the photo, be forewarned - it’s graphic.)

While the comedian was posing for a photoshoot unrelated to any of her sponsorships and comedy gigs, most of those brands and venues cut ties with her completely. Squatty Potty quickly dropped all commercials with her endorsement, and CNN removed her from their New Year’s Eve programming.


Source: AdWeek

Good thing, too. While not everyone supports President Trump, even most liberals found Griffin’s photo disturbing. If any of those brands had stood by Griffin, they most likely would have suffered irreparable damage to their brand image. After all, you probably don’t want someone who was questioned by the Secret Service selling your product.

Ryan Lochte and Speedo/Ralph Lauren

Ryan Lochte pretty much overshadowed a good bit of the 2016 Rio Olympics with his false robbery story. It was the scandal of the Games, and while it caused quite a few problems for Lochte, he ultimately made the U.S. Olympic team and his two biggest sponsors, Speedo and Ralph Lauren, look bad.

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No brand wants to have their name tied into a crime or scandal, and Ryan Lochte has always had a bit of a carefree reputation. While Lochte is still a phenomenal Olympian, the brands really had no choice but to drop their sponsorships of him until the scandal died down. That meant that any ads and promo material featuring Lochte were rendered useless.


Source: brandchannel

Choose Your Influencers Wisely

While a celebrity can bring a big boost to your brand’s awareness, you need to make sure you look into a celebrity’s past. While everyone’s human (yes, even celebrities), you want to make sure that if you’re choosing an influencer, you’re working with someone who has remained fairly neutral with their opinions.

You should probably make sure you have an iron-clad contract, too. Or the face of your brand could jump ship, and you’ll end up like Verizon.


Source: Talk Android

Alexa Matia

Alexa Matia

Alexa Matia is eZanga's former Content Writer and Digital Specialist. She's a native of Central Pennsylvania and a graduate of Shippensburg University, where she majored in English. When she's not writing, Alexa is either watching Star Wars (again), reading, running, or cuddling her overly spoiled dachshund, Chewbacca. More Articles by Alexa Matia