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New Resolutions for Brand Managers

by Mitch McCasland  |  
February 7, 2006

Even with January behind us, brand managers are still full of the promise of the New Year. Sure, things didn't go perfectly during 2005. But it's worth taking note of those things you'll solemnly swear you'll never do again.

Resolution #1: Resist the temptation of celebrity endorsements

Celebrity is not a strategy. Yet, it's quite enticing. The very thought of your brand being represented by an actor, sports star or other luminary is so appealing: Just think of how swiftly your idea will sail through the choppy, politically infested waters of corporate approval. That's star power, baby!

Meanwhile, back in the real world: Unless celebrities are an integral part of your business model, celebrity endorsements should be pursued with caution. Such endorsements are often deployed by brands that are challenged to distinguish themselves on the basis of rational performance, emotion or both.

But, who cares? Just imagine the notoriety you'll amass among your star-struck veeps in sales and marketing (particularly if they get to hang around the set during the commercial shoot). (I worked with a marketing manager who reportedly got a thrill from getting "less than urgent" phone calls from Britney Spears when she couldn't figure out how to program speed dial on her comped mobile phone.)

Celebrity endorsements can burn bright. But that which burns twice as bright burns half as long. If you must shoot for the stars, make sure you protect yourself. Rare is the celebrity deal that lasts longer than summer love. Be sure that you've got plans for the next logical, carefully considered phase of your brand strategy.

And, if I were you, I'd hide the autographed 8" X 10" until I hit my sales goals.

Resolution #2: Deflect the boss's passion for sports sponsorships

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Mitch McCasland ( is director of insight and brand strategy at Moroch Partners ( and a leading advocate of using customer insights and competitive intelligence as a basis for brand strategy, advertising, and new product design.

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