News & Insights

How to Create Authentic Celebrity Endorsements

By RF|Binder

Person holding an iphone showing social media apps.

Selena Gomez shared a Coke for six million likes, the Kardashians enjoyed Popeyes Chicken on a private jet, and Joelle Fletcher and Becca Tilley, The Bachelor/Bachelorette alums, want you to check out the latest sunglasses from an “affordable” and charitable eyewear company so you can look “cool”, just like them.

Influencer marketing and the use of celebrity likenesses by brands has become widely adopted by marketers for years, with the objectives ranging from driving awareness to conversions.  However, while endorsements have been proven to  drive increased clicks and sales (according to Collective Bias), they aren’t always executed as flawlessly. Celebrity and influencer posting flubs often make marketing professionals, and perhaps consumers, question if the celebrities or influencers’ endorsement of a product is even credible. Recently, top celebrity names like Ja Rule and Bella Hadid took a hit because of good intentions mixed with bad business management at Fyre FestivalScott Disick’s infamous #InstagramFail showed how little he paid attention to the collaboration when he accidentally copy and pasted emails from his publicist instructing him when to publish an endorsement post on Instagram.

So, what does this mean for brands and the influencers they want to work with? It’s about time that brands and their agencies take a step (or three) back to think about strategic, long-term goals and how to be transparent with consumers, including being compliant with rules and regulations online. Letters recently sent by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated that influencers need to “clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media,” calling out when influencers “hide” the required hashtags through a collapsed comment. A proper disclosure also wouldn’t necessarily hurt celebrities and influencers who choose to collaborate with brands. Consumers are starting to see through their Valencia-filtered lenses that celebrities aren’t “just like us” – they’re paid by big brands to promote their products, whether they actually use them in real life, or not.

Influencer marketing is a crucial part of any integrated communications campaign. However, every communications professional should re-think how they’re approaching third-party endorsements and how to nurture long-standing relationships with influencers instead of executing one-off campaigns. It’s time to get old school and use the 5 W’s: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY.  Here are a few things communications professionals, as well as brands and influencers, should think about when starting a campaign:

  • WHO is the audience? Consider who it is you are trying to reach.
  • WHO is the audience following? Do some initial research to understand who influences your audience.
  • WHAT do we want them to say/share? Key messages and a clear direction should be created prior to any campaign kick-off to easily guide influencers to unique yet authentic content.
  • WHAT will FTC disclosure look like? There are many options, as the point is to ensure the reader has the essential information, but be sure to check out the FTC’s Endorsement Guides for more info.
    Tip: Once the agency/brand has determined what FTC disclosures look like, consider using the same format for every influencer campaign for consistency purposes and don’t forget to include language in influencer contracts and/or guidelines.
  • WHEN do we want the influencer to post? Is there an ideal timing for both parties?
  • WHERE do we want the influencer to post? Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat?
  • WHY are we doing this? To be fair, this should be the first question asked and answered.

Influencer campaigns are meant to improve the consumer’s online experience, develop genuine relationships, and create unique and exciting content benefiting the greater social good. All parties must be on the same page and have the same goal in mind so campaigns are executed flawlessly and authentically,  every single time.

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