Taking the long view of brand partnerships

We are all familiar with the concept of a midlife crisis, or the seemingly rapid decline of identity or self-confidence sometimes brought on by “middle age.” You might even know someone who, for example, felt the need to ‘reinvent’ themselves by purchasing a sexy, fast sports car with the hopes the purchase will change their persona to reflect those attributes. The car is cool and sexy, but also completely and utterly impractical.

It’s no different in the world of Celebrity Sponsorship and Endorsements. Brands find they have become outdated, irrelevant, and have a need to “reinvent” themselves. They know they must integrate into the pop culture conversation and start looking for the right celebrity partnership to make them relevant again. And that’s when BANG! They purchase a mid-life crisis car. The CEO demands the “sexiest, coolest” celebrity for a campaign, but in reality, he/she is impractical.

Brands who align with celebrities, too often partner with the most current, hottest one. They analyze social media following, e-score, press, and sadly, the skewed personal preference of everyone in the room. The talent with the highest score is determined the winner. Like purchasing the Red Corvette, this strategy is short-sighted, and it’s not likely to yield lasting results. Brands pay top dollar and often, won’t have a true partner in the race. Hidden “maintenance” costs come up along the way (Glam, Private Travel, etc.) and suddenly it’s impossible to show an ROI on the spend.

Brands looking to integrate into pop culture AND show an ROI need to look at more “practical vehicles.” This means avoiding basing your celebrity sponsorship decision solely on star status. Investing in emerging/mid-tier talent not only eases your financial burden but often yields better results than an A-lister. Here’s why:


  • Emerging Talent have rabid and engaged fan bases comprised of early adopters. While the A-list star may have millions of followers, their followers aren’t necessarily engaged. Early adopters will be the first to discover and champion your brand.
  • They find more value in a brand’s marketing assets over a cash fee. They aren’t looking for a big check and instead look to create a marriage where each partner brings something to the table to benefit the other partner.
  • They are more engaged which allows your team to build a more robust campaign and leverage across all your marketing assets.
  • They return your calls. Rarely is this a brand’s consideration but it should be. A delayed approval could halt your entire campaign, missing deadlines and ruin any chance of hitting goals and objectives.


So next time you or your CEO want to buy a Red Corvette, explain that the Audi A5 is the more practical solution that will deliver better results. It will not only get you to your destination at 1/5 the cost but with a 23/32 MPG, your campaign will win the race without having to stop for gas.