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Top 10 Tips for Using a Celebrity Spokesperson

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We live in a celebrity-obsessed world. People and US Weekly magazines dominate newsstands while Access Hollywood and E! fill our screens with nonstop celebrity news.

No wonder, then, that spokespersons are used to promote events, increase product sales, and generate publicity for marketing programs.

As you plan your next marketing effort, keep in mind these top 10 tips for using a spokesperson.

1. Choose what type of spokesperson is best for your marketing campaign

Spokespersons typically fall into three categories:

  1. Celebrities: TV and film stars, musicians, comedians
  2. Athletes: Current and former professional athletes, broadcasters, Olympians
  3. Experts: Home design, fitness, nutrition, financial, relationship, lifestyle, medical, fashion, parenting, travel, etc.

Depending on your brand strategy, one or all of these could be a good fit. Look at your product messaging and company values to determine the ideal spokesperson for your audience.

2. Understand what a celebrity spokesperson can do for your marketing efforts

  • Draw traffic. A well-known and respected celebrity will serve as a draw to your event or product. Hall of Fame star Ronnie Lott of the San Francisco 49ers attracted attendees to a recent Genentech corporate event with his keynote speech and autograph-signing.
  • Attract the media. The right spokesperson will naturally attract media coverage. Intuit, in only in the middle of an eight-month program marketing program ("Small Business Big Game") with Bill Rancic (entrepreneur, author, season one winner of “The Apprentice, and reality television star of Giuliana and Bill), had already generated over 8 billion media impressions.
  • Inform and influence. Celebrities with a connection to a health issue or illness are helpful in educating and informing the public. For a health-related marketing program, we secured actress Holly Robinson Peete, whose father suffered from Parkinson's; she was a terrific ambassador to communicate key message points.

3. Be specific about the services requested of the spokesperson

Services may include national media interviews, a satellite media tour, a multi-city tour, personal appearances, a keynote speech, social media posts, blogs posts, and use of name and likeness on a website. The formal offer to the spokesperson must include ALL the services requested of that person.

4. Be realistic about what your budget will buy

Unrealistic expectations are the biggest challenge in the spokesperson process.

Popular celebrities, such as Sofia Vergara, require $150,000+ for a personal appearance, yet reality stars can command just $7,500. Some well-known experts, such as Chef Curtis Stone, receives approximately $75,000 for a satellite media tour, but a lesser-known expert can be retained for $15,000. Before you promise the world to a client, it's essential to know the market and costs to manage their expectations.

5. Book three to four months in advance

TV shows are canceled, athletes are injured, and who is "hot" can change. Three to four months is usually the appropriate time period to secure a spokesperson. But do not fret if you have less time; a spokesperson can be secured within weeks and even days. (DLB secured supermodel Chrissy Teigen within 12 days for a Campari Liquor red-carpet event.)

6. Understand your commitment

Once an offer is extended to a spokesperson and it is formally accepted, a legally binding agreement is established with the spokesperson. If you cancel or change the elements of the program, you will be responsible for the spokesperson fee. That provision is standard in the industry, and it is important to understand before you make a commitment.

7. Spokespersons will charge a nonprofit

Most celebrities have their own pet causes or foundations. Some spokespersons will reduce their fees for a nonprofit, but usually only if no corporate entity is aligned with the program. We have worked on a series of educational healthcare videos, and all 75 celebrity participants charged a reduced fee because of the educational component.

8. Include travel and other expenses in your calculations

Spokespersons will require airfare (often first class), hotel accommodations, and ground transportation to and from all airports and venue sites in addition to a per diem (which is a daily fee for meals and incidentals). In many instances, hair and makeup expenses will be also be required. With the top Hollywood celebrities, that can range upwards of $3,000, so we recommended to always cap this expense.

9. Use a professional firm to recommend and secure your spokesperson

Speaker bureaus and talent agencies (such as William Morris Endeavor or CAA) can recommend only their exclusive clients. Since the talent agency works for the talent, its job is to obtain the most amount of money for the least amount of service. That is opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. A celebrity procurement firm works for you, not the talent, and it has access to potentially all celebrities, athletes, and experts. A procurement firm can recommend the best spokesperson for your program and provide guidance on the spokesperson's fee to ensure you do not overpay.

10. Don't shoot the messenger

When a firm tells you that you cannot secure Melissa McCarthy for $20,000 for your mall event, please believe the firm.


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Darcy Bouzeos is founder and CEO of DLB, a leading firm for strategic celebrity and expert recommendation and program activation.

LinkeIn: Darcy Bouzeos

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  • by Courtney Bosch Wed Apr 9, 2014 via mobile

    I would add to be cautious of negative attention that some celebrities can attract. Some celebs, while great for your marketing efforts, are viewed as controversial and can draw the kind of attention that you may not want. This is important when considering who you want associated with your brand.
    Great article - thanks!

  • by Kimmy Burgess Thu Apr 10, 2014 via web

    I agree with Courtney. Fame and negativity comes together. So be cautious of the critics that you might be inviting with a celebrity spokesperson.

  • by amruth Mon May 5, 2014 via web

    nice post ,,, every marketers should read this 10 tips for using a celebrity spokesperson which is essential,.
    in India there is a company which is doing better in Celebrity Brand Management
    and also in celebrity endorsement and celebrity booking.

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