Seasonal Branding: Tread Carefully with Christmas Themed Brand Strategies

Fourth quarter commercialism looms large. Sparkly red and green Christmas displays are simultaneously mounted as spooky orange and black Halloween decorations come down.

From Ireland to Illinois, consumers react in unpredictable ways to brand seasonal messages that creep in earlier and earlier every year. For retailers, that response can mean boom or bust for critical end-of year-sales figures.

  

 

Black Friday Launches the Season

 

Like a turkey sandwich in-between Halloween and Christmas, America has another huge national holiday. On the fourth Thursday of November, the weekend following Thanksgiving traditionally signaled the official start of Christmas during most of the 20th century. Dreamt up as a marketing concept in 2003, Black Friday is now the most frenzied shopping day of the year. It sees queues forming overnight for big sales, many beginning at dawn and some as early as midnight on Thanksgiving Day.

 

Black Friday is spreading. In recent years, Canada, Mexico and India have followed suit while giant American retailers like Disney and Apple introduce online sales in Australia, too. French shoppers are familiar with “Vendredi Noir.” In the U.K., Tesco and Argos 2014 Black Friday promotions prompted police action in Manchester, with Argos withdrawing from the event in 2015. 

 

Meantime, as early Christmas shop windows draw back the curtains on November installations, the 114-year-old U.S. retailer Nordstrom takes a different approach, making a statement about celebrating one holiday at a time, as seen in a window display. 

  

  

 Nordstrom Window Twitter

Image via www.twitter.com

 

  

In America, Hollywood goes nuts at the holidays over box office receipts for new film releases, but the small screen is tame on TV adverts compared to the U.K., where Christmas adverts are a national pastime. 

  

We look at a mixed bag of examples representing both large brands and smaller ones on both sides of the pond to see how campaigns are making the most of the season — while others have misfired and are quickly pronounced a failure. See what you think about these adverts.

  

 

Balancing Sales Strategies Intended as Charitable Endeavours

 

John Lewis is one of those nationwide UK brands that attracts considerable media attention with their annual Christmas message, usually a tear-jerker. This year’s advert tells the story of a little 6-year-old girl called Lily and an old man she spies with her telescope, who lives — all alone and lonely — on the moon. The advert is designed to raise awareness for the charity, Age UK, with its tagline: “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas.”

 

 

 

 

 

According to The Guardian, “Last year, the retailer also spent £7m on a campaign featuring a realistic animated penguin and a young boy playing together to the tune of John Lennon’s Real Love, sung by British singer-songwriter Tom Odell. It had drummed up 22m views on YouTube by the first week of January…” This year’s numbers are soaring ahead of last year’s. 

 

  

 

 

Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis, is quoted in The Telegraph saying there is a consistent style for the store’s seasonal adverts. “It is has become part of our handwriting as a brand. It’s about storytelling through music and emotion. The sentiment behind that hasn’t changed – and that is quite intentional. The strategy behind our campaigns is always about thoughtful gifting.”

  

The £1 million production for a six-week-long £7 million campaign, which includes more cost for shop floors kitted out to resemble a moonscape, has seen members of the public ask[1]: Why couldn’t John Lewis make a multi-million contribution to Age UK? In fact, the profits from three small ticket items sold at the department store – a mug, a gift tag and a card – will go to the charity supplemented by donations from the public, inspired by the advert’s message.   

 

 

John Lewis Consumer Reaction Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

Brands Play to Emotions to Drive Brand Loyalty 

 

Tugging at the heartstrings via hugs, cute penguins, a melting Mr. Snowman, and even World War I soldiers celebrating a Christmas truce in the trenches are among the emotional connections brands are working and spending hard to make happen.

 

 

 

 

 

Why? In a word, loyalty. As pointed out by a retail analyst[2], for modern consumers to change brands no longer involves driving to another village or shopping centre; swapping brands is as easy as the click of a mouse. All of which means your brand strategy needs to be a lot more sophisticated if you want to first attract and then hold onto your customers. Remember people buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards — regardless of gender or cultural background. Your brand must be rich with authentic personality, have a really big why — reasons beyond the money to buy, create emotionally compelling reasons to engage, and ensure it includes an advocacy strategy within your action plan if you want to increase your profitability and ensure long-term success.  

 

A MindMover opinion poll[3] indicates the following brands are most closely associated with Christmas adverts in the U.K.: Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Cadbury, Asda, Toys R Us and Amazon. Not queried is the million pound question — that is, whether top-of-mind-awareness produces the all-important return on investment.

  

  

A Big Brand Blunder at Bloomingdale’s

 

Bloomingdale’s, U.S. luxury fashion chain stores owned by Macy’s, made such a spectacularly poor judgement in their 2015 Christmas advert that a week after the department store had apologized via Twitter, major editorials continued to call for a deeper response.

 

  

Bloomingdale's Advert Via Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

“Appearing to promote date rape,” says the Wall Street Journal[4], the “creepy” and “offensive” advert reads, “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Clearly, it went viral in the wrong way for the large retailer.

  

  

 Bloomingdale's Apology On Twitter

 Image via www.twitter.com

 

  

A Storm in a Teacup at Starbucks

 

At Starbucks, they knew what they were doing when the white snowflakes decorating the seasonal red cup design were removed. A seemingly simple change sent consumers in large numbers straight to social media, to sign a petition, and to boycott the brand, claiming that Starbucks was making an anti-Christ religious statement. “It’s just a red cup”, tweeted the voice of reason while Instagram lit up with Starbucks images and the nation’s top talk show hosts chimed in.

 

 

 Starbucks Red Christmas Cup 2015

Image via www.vox.com

 

 

Three lessons learned, says Entrepreneur[5], and small brands should pay especially close attention to number three on this list:

1) All PR is good PR. Starbucks marketing knew the response wouldn’t be universally positive, but they also knew this was not a crisis

2) The power of social media sharing is awesome — and free

3) Brands who react fast can newsjack a trend. “Other coffee brands got a boost from the issue, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, with its holiday cup release.

  

  

 Dunkin' Donuts Shout Out Twitter

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

The subject has also created opportunities for smaller companies, YouTubers and creative types alike to ride the wave and get attention.”

 

 

Just Wine Starbucks Cup Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

That’s the same brand strategy employed by the many John Lewis parody adverts that follow immediately on the heels of the store’s annual commercial.

 

 

Smaller Brands & Seasonal Brand Strategies

 

Small brands can make a large impact in the community by scaling ideas such as co-branding in a lower key way, supporting a charity or club, adding removable seasonal details to products and packaging design, donating Christmas trees to community centers, hospitals and nonprofit organizations.

 

In London, independent, privately-owned residential estate agency Bective Leslie Marsh has supported West London Action for Children for over a decade. Estate agents and local residents partner to raise funds for the 98-year-old charity through year-round bridge and tennis tournaments, trivia quiz nights, barn dances, garden fetes and more.

 

To offset Black Friday’s emphasis on big box stores and chain stores, Small Business Saturday was launched in the USA in 2010. It focuses on the bricks and mortar local shops that are the fabric of the Ma & Pa character neighbourhoods with American Express is the main sponsor. Partnerships and promotion via Google street view, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook come up with initiatives to launch holiday shopping on the last Saturday of November too. 

 

Other successful ideas have included branded shirts and kits for a local sports club, providing staff to serve Christmas dinners at senior centres, running a toy drive or food hampers collection, singing Christmas carols to collect for the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and similar. It’s important to make a small investment in well design brand collateral such as banners, posters, placards, T-shirts, caps and other branded items to decorate and to wear in order to properly associate the occasion with your own brand.

 

 

So, what do you think?

  

• Are you often caught short of time, or do you have a holiday marketing plan drawn up by Quarter 2? Do you need to include this as part of your brand audit health check or brand revitalization strategy?

 

• Does your brand have a charitable and/or community giving programme?

 

• Does your brand strategy include corporate social responsibility?

 

• Do you know what initiatives, outreach or volunteer activities your employees — your brand champions — would feel most supportive of on behalf of your brand?

 

• Do you feel confident about maximizing the potential impact on sales via volunteerism on behalf of your brand?

 

 

You might also like:

 

• Christmas Branding: Top 10 Tips to Infuse Your Brand with Seasonal Spirit

  

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

 

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

 

• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

• Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable  

 

[1] As seen on Twitter #johnlewischristmasadvert

[2] Bryan Roberts, Kantar Retail analyst, The Telegraph, 16/11/2015

[3] “Glad Tidings for John Lewis…”, The Guardian, 6/11/15

[4] “Bloomingdale’s Holiday Ad Draws Backlash…”, Wall St Journal, 12/11/2015

[5] “3 Lessons from Starbucks’ Red Cup ‘Controversy’”, Entrepreneur, 16/11/2015

 

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

Why Co-branding?

 

Co-branding is defined as a partnership between brands. It typically works best when Brand A partners with Brand B, each with a different set of customers and brand associations of their own. As in the expression, “the whole is bigger than the parts,” co-branding can add value when synergy exists between the brands; it creates an emotional energy, starts conversations and creates buzz around both partners.

  

 

 Co Branding Multiple Examples 600px

Image via www.missvinc.com

 

 

What do the experts say about co-branding and the future? According to design experts in the field, co-branding is important as the path for delivering a one-of-a-kind product, for delivering something to the marketplace that is otherwise impossible without the contribution of both brands.[1]

 

 

 Virgin Master Card 600px

Image of Virgin Mastercard via Bloomberg.com

 

 

According to franchising experts, “co-branding offers the best of both worlds” by combining compatible concepts and leveraging efficiencies, often placing two brands under one roof for a win-win.[2] And, according to a trademark expert, “co-branding has great advantages provided there is trust and transparency between the partners,” suggesting a kind of pre-nuptial agreement is the way forward.[3]

 

 

Co-branding Means Endless Possibilities

 

In addition to brand revitalization, co-branding objectives may include getting more bang for the buck, growing market share, building audience reach and altering perceived positioning. Co-branding is primarily used an alliance of two brand partners, although there’s no rule against bringing three or more to the party.

 

In the definitive book published in 2000, “Co-Branding: The Science of Alliance,” the authors laid out the opportunity on page one: 

 

“…the term ‘co-branding’ is relatively new to the business vocabulary and is used to encompass a wide range of marketing activity involving the use of two (and sometimes more) brands. Thus co-branding could be considered to include sponsorships, where Marlboro lends its name to Ferrari or accountants Ernst and Young support the Monet exhibition…The list of possibilities is endless.”   

 

 

Co-Branding Sponsorships and Sport

 

Examples of co-branding strategy are all around us, particularly abundant in international sporting events. In a longstanding partnership that has kept the ball in play since 1902, Slazenger is an official supplier to Wimbledon, gifting 52,000 tennis balls for each tournament. Huge sums of money, strategically spent, presented Rugby World Cup 2015 Worldwide Partners in a lineup of Heineken, Land Rover, Duracell, Société Générale, DHL, Emirates, Canon, EY (Ernst & Young) and MasterCard.

 

 

 Duracell Sam Warburton Rugby World Cup 2015

Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.duracell.com

 

 

 

FMCG Co-Branding and Packaging

Co-branding in fast-moving consumer goods can provide delicious “Aha” moments. On your grocery store shelf, see a perfectly packaged example in Betty Crocker Brownies Mix boxes containing Hershey’s chocolate syrup in a pouch.

 

 

 Betty Crocker Hersheys 600px

Image via flickr (CC 2.0, theimpulsebuy)

 

 

The partnership unleashed a succession of activities reaching way beyond the supermarket: Betty’s Big Bake Day at General Mills’ headquarters, recipe sharing among Facebook fans, events at Hershey World’s Pennsylvania theme park, cupcakes for the “Good Morning” television presenters to savor on-air and a road tour to launch a new lineup of 12 products for home baking. This multi-tiered co-branded campaign embraces a swathe of what Google marketers term “micro-moments,” from “I want to bake chocolate cookies” to “I want to win a trip.”

 

 

 Cobranding Betty Crocker Hershey 600px

Image via www.bettycrocker.com and www.hersheys.com

 

 

 

Nike and Apple Lead the Way

 

In 2006, the obvious connection between listening to music and going for a run partnered Nike+ iPod Sport Kit, a clever technological advance and a natural fit for both the shoe giant and Apple.

 

 

 Cobranding Nike Apple Packaging 600px

Image via Amazon.com for www.apple.com and www.nike.com

 

 

Having cut their teeth on co-branding with a Michael Jordan product line in 1984, Nike is one of the world’s strongest co-partners. And, Apple didn’t stop with footwear; co-branding continues to evolve in their product lines, such as Apple Music’s partnering with UK fashion retailer Burberry and its high-end collaboration with Hermès for the Apple Watch.

 

 

 Apple Hermes 600px

Image via www.apple.com

 

 

This special edition Apple Hermès watch offers both co-brand partners unique opportunities. For Hermès, it breathes freshness and modernity into a brand founded on tradition and heritage. For Apple it’s a clear signal that it now considers itself to be a luxury brand fused with a formidable blend of design and technology, effectively elevating the brand and positioning it even further from its nearest competitors.

 

 

 

Positioning and Fashion Brands

 

Fashion, accessories, and fragrance are fertile grounds for a co-branding triangle (the third party is the person wearing the item or the scent!) A very interesting collaboration strategy with couture houses is being used by the Swedish mega-chain H&M. Specially created campaigns with Karl Lagerfeld, Versace, Stella McCartney, Alexander Wang and other celebrity designers underpins the chain’s statement, “High-fashion design doesn’t have to be a matter of price.”

  

  

 Balmain H M Ny Times 600px

Image via www.nytimes.com (Rob Stothard for The New York Times)

 

  

These limited capsule collection collaborations are massive brand investments, but H&M have been using them as to create high-street or mass market frenzy, media attention and as ruthlessly effective brand builders. The scene repeated in November 2015, when a Balmain fashion collaboration touched off pre-dawn queues of thousands outside H&M stores from San Francisco to London to Sydney. As a result, couture becomes more relevant and H&M gets a distinctive positioning with serious attitude — definitively separating the brand from its mass market competitors.

 

 

A Closer Look at Co-branding Pros and Cons

 

When co-branding is perceived as successful by consumers, it can drive price points upward. Three stunning examples are cited by Liddell in his article for FastCompany:

 

“The Doritos Locos Taco earns a 40% premium compared to Taco Bell’s regular taco. The Fiat 500 by Gucci sells briskly at a 52% markup over the base price of a standard Fiat 500. Online pre-orders for the original Nike+Fuelband sold out in minutes, and Nike’s equipment division reported an 18% increase in profits for the fiscal year following the product’s introduction. These are impressive numbers for what are essentially a taco, an iOS-powered pedometer, and a very small Italian car.”

 

 

 Fiat 500 By Gucci

Image via www.fiat.com

 

 

Top 7 Benefits of Co-branding

 

As a marketing strategy, co-branding earns strong recommendations for its scalability. Co-branding for small and medium-sized businesses can be equally productive as for the biggest brand names playing on a global field. Consider these tactical and strategic advantages:

 

On the plus side, co-branding can: 

1. Introduce products or services of one brand to customers of another

2. Represent substantial cost savings on advertising

3. Enhance the appeal of a product or service

4. Reposition brands with a more elevated appeal

5. Broaden a geographical market reach

6. Enable a small brand to punch above its weight and a larger one to focus on a niche

7. Alter brand perceptions permanently amongst a target audience through positive associations in what is known as the ‘spillover effect’

 

 

Top 5 Co-branding Risk Management Tips

 

Just like falling in with the wrong crowd can harm your reputation, co-branding with the wrong partner carries risk by association. Likewise, public perception about brands changes and endorsements can go sour, even without the drama of a superstar and a criminal offense. Readers may recall examples of O.J. Simpson former partnering with Hertz Rent-a-Car (1978) and Lance Armstrong’s former association with Nike. 

 

Without a budget for superstar endorsements or the resiliency of a big brand, small businesses must choose co-branding partners as carefully as they would choose a supplier.

 

It’s prudent to take these steps to reduce risk when co-branding: 

1. Identify partners with deep synergy

2. Collaborate with partners who reflect similar brand values

3. Choose brand partners that are leaders in their sector

4. Create programs with partners who best complement your brand

5. Retain full approval and refusal rights for all communications

 

 

Why Co-branding is Often Overlooked

 

First and foremost, you must protect your own brand. Smaller businesses often overlook co-branding for three main reasons:

1. Fear that the risks outweigh the positive

2. Wrongly thinking that opportunities will simply present themselves and

3. A lack of strategic brand vision

 

Nonetheless, when co-branding partnerships are strategically and tactically developed, they can be an extremely effective tool.

 

 

6 Tips for Co-Branding Success

 

These recommendations cannot be over-emphasized:

 

1. Research thoroughly, evaluate carefully and understand your partner’s corporate mission

2. Ensure there’s a win-win for both parties – that both brands will get a beneficial return on their investment

3. Protect brand logo and trademark integrity

4. Identify separate and joint objectives and target the ROI for each campaign

5. Develop a brand strategy plan and assign action plan responsibilities, with deadlines, to individuals

6. Communicate, communicate, communicate

 

 

Co-branding in the Digital Age

 

Our digital world is where storytelling meets online strategy. Have a look at the Facebook page of any small business to see customers who “liked” it. On a micro-level, that’s co-branding at work. Influencers for hire and brand ambassadors, some of whom boast followers in the hundreds of thousands, are the embodiment of contemporary co-branding on platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

 

The ‘always-on’ aspect of social media connectivity provides opportunities for consumer interaction, contests, YouTube videos, Twitter chat rooms and more, often drawing on popular culture for inspiration.

 

In 2012, the #CokeZero007 campaign challenged commuters as they stepped up to a soda vending machine in an Antwerp train station to “unleash the 007 in you” for the release of “Skyfall,” the latest James Bond film. A music-rich YouTube stunt video, devoid of voice-over, has earned more than 11 million views.

  

  

  

 

 

In a 2013 surprise move, Google named their Android operating system KitKat, after a Nestlé brand chocolate bar, stretching even the most imaginative marketing minds about co-partnering possibilities.

 

 

Celebrate The Breakers Break 600px 

Image, Nestlé via www.independent.co.uk

 

 

Google-owned YouTube exploited the connection further in 2015 to link the platform’s 10th birthday and the candy bar’s 80th birthday. The message? Break open a yummy KitKat while enjoying YouTube’s most popular videos, curated for viewers’ break time.

  

  

  

  

  

For Christmas 2015, Burberry’s YouTube ad connects the dots between the 15th anniversary of “Billy Elliot” and a cast of stars including Romeo Beckham, Sir Elton John, Julie Walters and “Downton Abbey” actor Michelle Dockery performing ballet moves dressed in the trademark tartan cashmere scarves and signature macs. The co-branded message translates as “Cool Britannia.”

 

  

  

  

  

• What innovative co-branding partnerships have impressed you lately?

  

• Are short-term partnerships a good choice for small businesses?

  

• Could you use co-branding as part of your brand revitalization strategy?

  

• Do you have potential co-branding partners in mind for your business?

  

• Do you have clear objectives in mind for a potential co-brand campaign?

  

• What can be learned from co-branding mistakes such as Southwest Airlines and SeaWorld?

  

• Can brands insulate themselves from external forces and public opinion, such as the

  Greenpeace effect on ending the partnership between toymaker Lego and petroleum giant Shell?   

  

  

 

You might also like:

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

  

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

   

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

   

• Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

  

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

 

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

  

• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success

  

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

 

[1] Devin Liddell, “3 Reasons Why Co-Making is the Future of Branding,” FastCompanyDesign

[2] Kerry Pipes, “Co-branding Offers the Best of Both Worlds,” Franchising.com

[3] Ilanah Simon Fhima, “Trade Mark Law and Sharing Names,” Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd

 

 

Rugby World Cup Branding: 5 Ideas You Can Learn From Big Brand Marketers

At the early Olympics, every four years triumphant athletes were lauded by having sponsorships called out (family name and native town), odes written and likenesses commissioned. These ancient versions of mass media frenzy were designed to create buzz and sing the virtues of the victorious. Today, major sporting events continue to represent big opportunities for ambassadorships and sponsors, since everyone loves a winning athlete.

 

As the world’s third-biggest sporting event, attracting an audience of 4.5 billion, brands of all sizes have jumped on board. Three thousand years later, what can we learn from the contemporary interpretation of getting one’s brand behind huge sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup?

 

 

Note that brand strategy in 2015 requires the “softly, softly”, more authentic and transparent approach for even the most hard-core rubgy fans. Here’s what we mean by that:

  

1. Humanizing Your Brand (case study Duracell)

 
2. Developing Influencers (case study Heineken) 

 
3. Adding Values (case study EY)

 
4. Thinking Locally (case study Land Rover)

 
5. Using How-To (case study Canon)

 

  

Humanizing Your Brand: Duracell’s Powerplay

First and foremost, you want a battery that lasts; not much else about a battery is terribly important. But, how do you know when the battery is about to die? Unlike smartphones, there’s no indicator screen — unless you’re using PowerCheck technology, uniquely found on Duracell batteries since 1996.

  

Duracell re-positioned #PowerCheck within the rugby event framework, capitalizing on an ideal opportunity for Duracell to emphasize both power and strength. A two-pronged approach, to put a face (and physique) to the brand, enlisted Wales and British Lions captain Sam Warburton as the muscle-bound ambassador for a digital, in-store and PR campaign featuring footage from previous Rugby World Cups.

 

 

  

 

  

On the 2015 World Cup rugby pitch, #PowerCheck technology is used to help to track players’ performance indicators, combining rucks, tackles, carries and turnovers won during each game, rewarding those who “stay stronger for longer.”

 

 

 Duracell Sam Warburton Rugby World Cup 2015

Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.duracell.com

 

 

Alex Haslam, senior assistant brand manager for Duracell UK & Ireland, told Marketing Week the sponsorship will continue in future years and become part of the brand’s long-term brand strategy. Haslam said, “We know we’re not going to own rugby as a brand, but we’ve created something totally ownable. No other brand is talking about power and longevity.”

  

  

 

 

   

Actionable Branding Tip 1

How can I humanize my brand? The Duracell brand strategy can help smaller brands because it’s totally scaleable. Community events, county championships, school fairs, local youth sport clubs, charity fun runs and tournaments all present opportunities for associating your brand with local heroes and teams. Sponsor T-shirts, donate the local juniors’ kits, donate printing services, provide snacks and beverages for break time. We can help you find a great fit for your brand message in connection to a well-respected event, just like Duracell did.

  

  

Developing Brand Influencers: Heineken’s Heads or Tails

Former England captain Will Carling is a rugby VIP. Heineken is a big beer brand. People watch the rugby while drinking beer. Everyone gets that…but, there’s more to a tie-up than hiring someone like Carling to hold up the famous green beer bottle with the red star for the camera.

 

Heineken thought out some ways to get armchair fans involved with star rugby brand ambassadors to enhance the spectator experience, even to the extent of getting 48 fans onto the actual field to open matches, creating untold positive reinforcement for Heineken.

 

The campaign, “It’s Your Call” was created. Consumers find a unique code on the inside of special Heineken promotional packs or on a coin card given out in pubs when buying a Heineken during the promotion. Up for grabs are thousands of official Rugby World Cup 2015 merchandise prizes and the chance to flip the coin at Rugby World Cup 2015 matches.

 

 

   

    

  

To further emphasize “experiences, not just sponsorship,” Will Carling includes coin toss winners in video interviews with top rugby stars, while consumers are invited to live tweet at the rugby legends.   

 

David Lette, premium brands director for Heineken UK, told Marketing Week, “The key thing for us is how we drive the association in a unique and experiential way for consumers.”

 

 

 Heineken Rugby World Cup 2015 600px

Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.heineken.com

 

  

 

Actionable Branding Tip 2

Can a smaller brand develop influencers? Absolutely. Heineken created evangelists-for-life by rewarding ordinary consumers and small brands can, too. Influencers don’t need to be famous. Your brand’s evangelists are your satisfied customers, and they’re happy to enter competitions, provide testimonials, attend events, sample new products, appear in videos. Just begin the conversation with them and press “record.” We’ll show you how to create effective videos within budget.

  

 

    

Adding Values: EY (Ernst & Young) Connects the Dots

Appointed as the official business advisor for the tournament, professional services firm EY (Ernst & Young LLP) targeted a B2B opportunity outside the consumer sphere.

  

 

 Ey Teambuilding And Leadership Rugby Worldcup 2015 600px

Image via www.ey.com

 

 

Homing in on good sportsmanship values like leadership, motivation, performance and teamwork, EY connects the dots to resonate with their client base. Via exclusive seminars and publishing interviews with highly regarded rugby personalities, EY stays relevant while shining a light on their brand’s appointment.

 

  

 

 

 

Comments from proven winners in the world of rugby come from Katy Mclean, England women’s captain; Sir Graham Henry, former coach of New Zealand’s All Blacks; and Sir Ian McGeechan, former Scotland and British Lions player and coach, on topics such as “Lessons in Leadership: Rugby to the Boardroom.” It’s a perfect fit for B2B.

 

 

 Ey Sir Ian Mc Geechan Rugby World Cup 2015 Leadership

Image via www.ey.com

 

 

Tom Kingsley, sport and sponsorship director at EY, illustrates the tie-in, “On a daily basis we are asked by our clients about how to compete on a global stage…

Rugby World Cup affords us the opportunity to explore some of those issues because it is the coming together of 20 elite rugby teams all with one aim — to win on the global stage.”

  

 

Actionable Branding Tip 3

We’re a B2B brand, but small: Smaller business can mirror EY’s content marketing strategy by creating white papers, blog posts, newsletters, webinars, videos and other B2B marketing initiatives that deliver meaningful information and added value to clients and prospects. When there’s a trending event, connect to it through content. We’ll show you how hashtags are your workhorse and a strongly developed brand content strategy can help you punch well above your weight. 

  

  

 

Think Locally: Land Rover Drives the Message Home

Fact: every sports hero and Olympian began as an amateur. Land Rover plucked “from the grassroots to the greatest stage” as the theme for their local-to-global storytelling campaign using the hashtag #WeDealInReal. The brand recruited 96 enthusiastic mascots aged 7-13 from 11 amateur rugby clubs around the world, representing each competing country to run out with their nation’s team.

 

 

 Land Rover Smallest Rugby Team In The World

Image via www.landrover.com

  

    

People are drawn to inspirational stories. Among the videos created to support the campaign, the biggest hit is titled, “Land Rover Rugby Ambassadors visit the World’s Smallest Rugby Club.”

  

  

 

 

 

“It speaks to the heart of the game and I think it also speaks strongly to the brand about being authentic and genuine,” Laura Schwab, UK marketing director at parent company Jaguar Land Rover, told Marketing Week.

  

 

  

  

  

Actionable Branding Tip 4

Great idea, but we’re not a global brand. Small brands are perfectly positioned to drive Land Rover’s concept forward. As a mascot for the Welsh Rugby Union, pint-sized 8-year-old Finlay Walker at Llanharan RFC and a Hampshire local rugby club were not too tiny to garner attention from Jaguar Land Rover. Every brand can — and must — tell their own authentic brand stories one person at a time. We can help you identify and create the best story opportunities using our Story Selling System™.

  

  

 

Using How To: Canon Says You Can

 

Idea #1: Spot yourself in the stands? Official sponsor of the tournament, Canon is producing a series of 360-degree images capturing the entire stadium during major matches. In a clever interactive twist, fans are encouraged to tag themselves in the crowd via social media.

 

  

 Canono Fan Tag Rugby World Cup 2015

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com

  

 

Idea #2: Exclusivity rocks. Canon offers amateur photographers who post the best rugby shots to shadow a Getty Images photographer at a RWC 2015 training session. The shots get featured on the official RWC website photo gallery. Who knows what special moments might be captured?

 

  

Rugby World Cup Fan Pics 600px 

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com

 

 

Idea #3: How-to tips. Self-proclaimed “massive fan” Bear Grylls, intrepid adventurer, is joined by professional rugby photographer Dave Rogers to demonstrate angles, shutter speeds and more tips for capturing great shots like Rogers’ famous Jonny Wilkinson drop kick in Sydney from 2003.

 

  

 

 

 

Cyprian da Costa, brand communications director for Canon Europe, said that images play “a vital role in capturing the unmatched excitement and emotion of global sports.”

 

  

Canon Rugby World Cup 2015 600px 

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com

  

 

 

Actionable Branding Tip 5

How can Canon ideas help my brand? By turning your brand marketing approach on its head. Years ago, a big brand idea around a huge event would have focused on “Canon can…” rather than “You can…” Take a second look at all your brand’s content and brand collateral, adverts, tag lines and social media to re-position everything with an emphasis on your brand seen through the eyes of your audience, not your executive boardroom. We’re here to help.

  

  

We’d love to know what you think about how to scale these five big brand approaches to fit a smaller brand size.

 

• Have you successfully humanized your brand? Do you need to re-evaluate this as part of your rebranding strategy?

 

• Are you using event tie-ins in your brand content marketing strategy?

  

• Would you like to know more about hacking trends?

  

• Have you shot and posted a library of how-to videos?

  

• Are you telling compelling stories about your brand? This is where you might want to consider brand profiling using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ combined with our Story Selling System™ to help you develop a really compelling and distinctively different brand.

  

• Is CSR part of your brand strategy? Does your brand support a school, community program or charity drive?

  

  

You might also like:

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?  

 

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

 

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

 

• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• CEO Brand Leadership: How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?

  

  

World Cup Branding: What Can You Learn from the World Cup Campaigns?

Much like the Olympics, every four years the World Cup captures the attention of the globe—and global marketers. World Cup branding is a powerful way for businesses to elevate their brand profiles and strengthen brand visibility on a global scale.

  

But the branding techniques used by companies during World Cup fever don’t have to be confined to once every four years. Here are some branding lessons your business can take away from the latest World Cup marketing campaigns.

  

Take A Risk With Something Different

World Cup advertising sponsorships aren’t easy to come by—they’re highly limited, extremely costly, and competed for fiercely. Only a handful of big brands manage to score these coveted sponsorships. Non-sponsor companies, therefore, usually arrange for star-studded branded advertising that conveys support for the game and suggests affiliation.

 

 Nike Swoosh Logo

Image via www.nike.com

  

Nike, who wasn’t a sanctioned World Cup sponsor for 2014—though competitor Adidas was—managed to grab an early win by going against the trend. The company created a video, released right before the start of the tournament, that broke all the rules: it’s animated (though some of the characters are futbol celebrities), it never directly mentions the World Cup, and it’s a whopping five and a half minutes long—nearly twice the maximum length of three minutes that’s usually recommended for customer engagement.

  

 

  

The video, which is really a mini-film, uses subtle and strategic product placement throughout. The theme of the video’s story is “risk everything”—and it’s a risk that paid off significantly for Nike, who garnered over 65 million views and experienced more user engagement than its sponsored competitor, with less effort.

 

What can your business learn from “The Last Game”? When you take risks and deliver something unexpected, your brand benefits.

 

Be A Good Sport

When it comes to sporting events, especially global tournaments like the World Cup, passions can run high. Everyone will have their favorites, but not all of them can win. Brands in particular need to carefully monitor their support for one team over another, and be cautious when posting their sentiments in public spaces.

 

KLM Airlines learned the hard way with what happens when you offend your audience with your fan sentiments. The European company tweeted about Mexico’s defeat to the Holland team with a stereotyped picture of a mustached, sombrero-sporting figure next to a departure sign, captioned with the words “Adios Amigos!” The tweet went rapidly viral in a negative way, incurring backlash from the online community that included a profanity-laced attack from Hollywood A-List actor Gael Garcia Bernal tweeting his 2 million plus followers that he’ll never fly KLM again! Though KLM soon deleted the tweet, the damage had been done.

   

Gael Garcia Bernal Tweet

    

The takeaway here is to choose your brand alignment carefully, and be a good sport when it comes to wins and losses. Your brand sentiment should never offend your customers.

 

 

Link Your Offline and Online Campaigns Together

The most successful global brands present a consistent customer experience throughout all aspects and representations of their brands. One of the best ways to maintain consistency is to create links between various campaigns that will drive customer engagement on multiple channels.

 

During the World Cup, several brands strove for integration across channels, from television to social to mobile. Global auto manufacturer Hyundai created a particularly successful integrated World Cup campaign with television commercials that called on a popular internet meme and created a user-friendly Twitter hashtag to continue the theme online.

  

  

The video incorporates the “because something” meme that’s frequently used on social media and pop culture websites. While the subject is the Spanish team and their 2010 World Cup win, the advertisement is universal, with just one line of subtitled dialogue and the rest of the story told in actions and flashbacks. It’s funny and endearing, and the use of the #BecauseFutbol hashtag helped to engage audiences and increase Twitter activity for Hyundai.

 

The lesson here is that a consistent and integrated brand strategy across multiple channels can help your business succeed any time, not just during global sporting events.

  

What do you think?

 

• How can your brand capitalise on global events, even without official sponsorships?

  

• What are some unique ways you can present your brand, or unexpected twists you could deploy over typical marketing themes?

  

• How carefully are you monitoring your brand alliances to ensure you’re not offending your audience?

 

• What are you doing to tie your online and offline campaigns together?

  

• Do you create a consistent customer experience across all channels, on and offline, with your brand?

  

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Rebranding : How To Do It Successfully and Avoid Pitfalls

One of the world’s biggest brands – Coca Cola – has done it eleven times, albeit in a largely evolutionary manner, since selling their first sugar-laden fizzy drink in its now-iconic bottle. Thousands of other very successful well knows brands have also done it over the decades. It’s a critical and strategic part of all successful businesses regardless of size, be they global giants or much loved more local national players. If a brand wants to stay relevant and connected then rebranding is an essential part of its continued success.

 

The degree of change in rebranding can take many forms from a gentle evolutionary update to a radical overhaul, the decisions for which are driven by strategic business objectives. Done correctly, whether evolutionary or radical in nature, rebranding can have a hugely positive impact on the bottom line, and be responsible for driving a significant increase in a business’s profitability.

  

Equally, a poorly thought out rebranding strategy can pose serious risks to your business resulting in loss of credibility, brand equity and the hard won brand asset value which you’ve painstakingly built up over the years. Successful rebranding must be given careful thought, research and planning to ensure the successful results desired.

   

To give you some further insights into both the ‘hows’, ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ of rebranding we’ve included some examples in this article, which will provide you with some direction, if considering rebranding in your business. Disasters and successes are both learning tools when analysed from an informed perspective, there are always invaluable lessons here for us all!

 

 

Top 3 Reasons to Rebrand

1. Brand Evolution : Over Time We’ve Changed…

Sometimes a company moves on but its brand doesn’t. In other words, it doesn’t represent what that business ‘stands for’ or does any more. This was the case with American Airlines when its executives felt they needed to rebrand earlier this year. The rebrand included a complete re-evaluation of what the brand stood for, and how it was perceived by stakeholders, both internally and externally in the market.

 

Evolution Of American Airlines Logo

Image via Lost Press Marketing

 

Part of the rebranding process included an update of its visual icon, the brand identity, which hadn’t seen much change since its introduction back in 1968. Its important to note that brand logos are a shorthand way to remind us of a brand’s relevance, associations and reputation in the market and are a by-product of all a company’s brand building efforts over time. They are the visual aid or trigger that reminds customers of all the emotional and rational reasons of why they love (or in some cases dislike) a brand but they are not the ‘brand’ in themselves, merely the visual identifier.

  

When American Airlines analysed its brand logo in the context of what the brand stood for now in the current market, the old symbol wasn’t seen to meet current needs or communicate the core brand message any longer. America’s number one airline needed a more streamlined and vibrant visual image to represent the brand in its full context. They also wanted to let go of what they termed the ‘bullying emphasis’ they believed old logo represented, according to one senior AA executive:

 

“The old identity was slightly skewed to a more powerful American image. We needed to move it to [what we call] ‘American spirit,’” he said.  “That’s the side of America people really, really love. People have huge love for the eagle, but not necessarily the eagle in the downward position potentially attacking someone.”

 

 

   

2. Reputation Management : Negative Brand Sponsorships…

Brand sponsorship of significant high profile events, causes or people such as celebrities can reap immense rewards, through the association for the brand. Equally it can also cause reputation risks too, if for example the person concerned suddenly becomes embroiled in a publically unacceptable behaviour or expresses a controversial opinion or becomes aligned to something which is the opposite of what your brand stands for.

 

A simple example from the USA is a Missouri restaurant owner who’d named his restaurant after a Missouri basketball star (Albert Pujols). When Albert Pujols left the Missouri St. Louis Cardinals to play for the Los Angeles Angels suddenly ‘Pujols 5’ wasn’t the go-to restaurant in town anymore. In fact, it became the opposite, the owner received numerous cancellations, his premises were vandalized and a police cordon had to be set up to deter further damage. Sales dropped a whopping 75 per cent and it seemed as if the business was about to go bust. Indeed customers are filmed saying they doubted it would survive even a year.

 

A radical rebrand became critical to the fundamental survival of the business. In fact the rebrand required a complete name change to ‘Patrick’s Restaurant & Sports Bar’. The restaurant re-established itself successfully in the market with the rebrand and most importantly, in the minds of its target market, enabling the business to grow again profitably.

 

Unfortunately, in the case of US family-run firm ‘Ms & Mrs’ their brand wasn’t just broke but demolished – thanks to a much-anticipated promotion in a TV show which turned out to be a definite brand breaker as opposed to booster. The presenter on the ABC talk show, mispronounced the name of their company to Mr & Mrs. 

 

 Mr And Mrs Emergency Kit

 

Image via Audrey Lifestyle Magazine 

 

As a result, all that much-looked forward to thousands of dollars worth of free publicity and increased sales for the firm (it provides a variety of ‘emergency personal care kits’ for for all sorts of occaions) never happened.

 

That wasn’t the only time the name had been mispronounced. Vloggers had accidentally altered it too or even had trouble saying it in the first place. Enough was enough. It was time to do something. So the family rebranded and changed their brand name. In order to avoid any confusion, they chose a new name completely different from the original and became ‘Pinch Provisions’.

 

 Pinch Minimergency Brides Kit

Image via Pinch Provisions

 

They also did a brilliant pre-name change video – using humour to make fun of themselves (and no doubt endearing themselves to thousands more customers in the process). 

 

 

  

  

3. Brand Name Translations : Bad Interpretations

One of the key guidelines to brand naming is ensuring the name and its tag line translates appropriately across different languages and cultural boundaries. Sometimes this consideration has been overlooked resulting in unfortunate connotations or interpretations when translated into foreign languages, such as the following examples:

 

A sports drink in Japan, produced by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co and aimed at replacing electrolytes lost in sweating is named Pocari Sweat (which we reckon wouldn’t go down well in English-speaking countries).

 

Pocari Sweat Ion Drink

 

In Germany the computer Commodore VIC-20 had to be renamed to the VC-20. The reason for this is that VIC in German would be pronounced fick which means (well, in English you’d put a ‘u’ in place in the ‘i’).

 

The American SciFi channel wanted a new text friendly name. Unfortunately they choose SyFy which in many countries turned out to be slang for syphilis.

 

Online marketing company PinCrusher used to be known as PinBot – until they realised the word ‘Bot’ didn’t have particularly good connotations (being associated with as a web crawler). It could also be extremely confusing considering their business was internet based and involved the selling of a Pinterest app…

 

Rebranding isn’t something that can be taken lightly. It needs to be strategically driven and supported by considerable market research to find out what’s working, what isn’t. Most importantly new potential rebrand approaches should also be ‘tested’ and researched, before full development and launch to market, to get feedback and ensure target audience ‘buy in’. Make sure you find out and know where and why to keep the good stuff, and bin the out of date or compromised, to ensure your rebrand launch is successful and increases your profitability.

 

• If you’re considering rebranding do you really know what works well for your brand and what aspects of it could do with a revamp?

 

• Have you researched your target audience to test brand sentiment and get feedback both at the beginning of you rebranding project and again at an advanced stage of development to test your new positioning/concepts etc.?

 

 

Why Align Your Brand to A Worthy Cause?

The benefits to worthy causes or charities of partnering with big brands are obvious. Charities, such as Oxfam, use partnerships with commercial brands as a media platform and an opportunity to get its message out to the public.

 

 M S Oxfam

 

Partnering with Marks & Spencer allows Oxfam to tap into the huge influence the M&S brand has over consumers. Being able to promote their message among that captured audience via this kind of partnership is immensely beneficial to the charity and their work.

 

However partnerships of this nature can be mutually beneficial to both the charity and brand alike. It bequeaths the commercial brand with a deeper meaning and offers another opportunity for engagement with their customers on a different emotional level.

 Building Partnership

  

It can also become a significant part of the brands social contribution policy. Without wishing to sound cynical, tying up with a worthy cause or charity can be a winning formula for brands sensitive to the current climate and worth serious consideration as part of your brand strategy.

 

 

4 Top Reasons Why Brands Should Engage in Cause Related Marketing

 

Whether sponsoring charitable activities or committing to donate profits to a worthy cause, the benefits to brands in aligning themselves with good causes are significant

 

1. Build Brand Awareness

Building partnerships with charities can make a sustainable difference to the cause but it also enables the brand to raise awareness with a wider target audience. Sponsoring a charitable activity often coincides with providing the brand with significant visibility of their logo and products with an engaged and receptive audience. It also provides a platform for brands that are looking to reposition themselves in the market, and change customer perceptions, with a great opportunity by aligning themselves with the right charity associated with the desired target market.

 

Charitable partnerships can make the brand more accessible to a wider audience particularly if the brand engages in an experiential marketing campaign. It also enhances a company’s credibility and provides an opportunity to educate the public about their products and services. Product sampling is also a great opportunity to attract new customer attention and commonly used by brands sponsoring charitable sporting activities.

 

 

2. Corporate Social Responsibility

Engaging in a strategy of corporate social responsibility through charitable partnerships displays a brand’s desire to make a positive contribution to social issues in the community.

 

It can also have a positive effect on the internal culture of the organisation. Charity partnerships provide the potential to boost employee engagement, and subsequently improve morale, as well as raising awareness among staff.

 

 Corporate Social Responsibility

 

HSBC has ties with environmental charity Earthwatch and sends employees to visit projects. ‘It is good for motivation and makes employees more likely to stay with the company and become effective brand ambassadors,’ says Nigel Pate, head of environmental partnerships at HSBC.

 

It can give a sense of purpose and involvement to employees. It highlights the importance of nurturing the strategy to support not just the corporate image but the wider stakeholders too. There is a sense of corporate pride amongst employees at being associated with a project that makes a positive impact in their world.

 

 

3. Differentiate the Brand from Competitors

Aligning your brand with a positive cause engenders a more caring image with customers. In markets where the variances between individual brand offerings becomes blurred, associating your brand with a significant social issue or charitable cause can give your customers a new reason to pick your brand over competitors in the market.

 

It is a way to communicate something about the brand that is beyond price, product or service. Brands who partner with charities or champion significant social issues often benefit from a boost in sales because, given the choice, customers are more likely to buy a brand that supports a worthy cause over a competitor who does not.

 O Egg White Eggs Icograda

 

O’Egg is a great example of an Irish brand with modest resources which has aligned itself with ‘Action Breast Cancer’. They operate in a market with weak brand differentiation and yet the O’Egg White Egg product in its bright pink packaging is very much targeted at a female audience. The cause has a very obvious relevance to its target market which has helped raise brand awareness and benefited the cause too.

 

 

4. Boost Brand Equity

Championing a social issue or engaging with charities is a worthy way to boost brand equity and invest in a little feel-good-factor. Aligning marketing activity with cause related issues enables brands to build a reputation with their target market and build an emotional connection can help strengthen brand loyalty.

 

Linking brand support to significant social issues or charities creates an emotive response alongside goodwill. Customers feel they are extending the value of their purchase to include a worthy cause investment and are more likely to be repeat purchasers. 

 

Flora Womens Marathon Dublin

  

Flora’s support of the woman’s mini marathon shows their customers that as a brand, they care about what their customers care about. They recognize their customers concerns and actively try to support them. Brand loyalty is strengthened and brand equity is boosted when the customer’s affinity with the brand extends beyond the product itself. 

 Red Products 

 

(RED) is an example of a long established initiative encompassing the support of some of the worlds biggest brands who have each committed to supporting charitable initiatives in Africa. Each brands dedicates a (RED) product in their product line to the cause.

 

 Red Brands

 

 

How to Beat the Cynics

For cause related marketing to work your customer must feel differently about your company and brands as a result of the association. The partnership must be relevant to the target customers in order to be trusted. The Nissan Leaf brand alignment to the issues of global warning, and its threat to the environment, is a great example of brand cause marketing, all of which is very relevant to their eco sensitive core target audience.

 

 

 

For the most part customers know that sponsorship of charitable causes or championing a significant social issue is not a form of corporate altruism but a strategic business move. Consequently brands need to be upfront and transparent as to the corporate motives behind the association. 

 

Partnerships must prove its credibility with customers before making any kind of direct product links. For this to be successful the commitment to the aim of the cause must be sincere. Long-term commitment is needed to create a degree of trust, and show that the partnership is more than just an add-on to other marketing activity.

 

Arts and charities sponsorships are cheaper than sports sponsorships and can generate profit and brand equity while boosting corporate social responsibility credentials and employee engagement.

 

In an uncertain economic climate where consumer trust in major consumer brands has been damaged, partnering with a worthwhile cause could be the best investment you make in your brand strategy in the year ahead.

 

What local, national or global cause could you authentically align your brand with, that would be congruent with your core brand values, relevant to your target audience and genuinely make a difference – show that you really care?

 

Celebrity Brand Endorsement: 7 Tips to Getting it Right

Michael Jordan and Nike, Michael Jackson and Pepsi, Jennifer Lopez and Venus. For decades now branding giants have paid big bucks to get celebrities to endorse their brand and it’s not hard to see why. It can be a critical and very profitable part of your brand strategy.

 

 Jennifer Lopez Venus

 

From winning athletes to global superstars of the entertainment industry, the use of celebrities as brand ambassadors offers significant advantages to a company.

 

Celebrity endorsement is concerned with the strategic alignment of the celebrity brand and the marketing brand. A celebrity brand spoksperson can attract attention and generate emotional affinity with the brand in a way that may not be possible with traditional advertising.

 

 Michel Jordan Nike

 

A well-matched celebrity endorsement partnership can benefit the brand when the target audience transfers their admiration for the celebrity onto the brand, thereby allowing it influence their purchase decision making process.

 

As well as influncing the bottom line, aligning the brand with celebrity gives the brand greater access to more fans. The wider the fan base the larger the spread of the marketing message and the increased profitability of the brand.

 

 

7 Essential Tips to Getting the Right Celebrity Brand Match

 

Celebrity Brand Mismatch

In the same way brands develop a perceived brand image within their market, celebrities develop a public persona based on their professional achievements and public behavior. The closer aligned the brand image and celebrity image the better the return on investment of the celebrity endorsement.

 

Using a celebrity who’s public image, or what they stand for, which is incongruent or does not align with your brand’s message/image and what it stands for, will cause confusion and largely do more harm than good.

 

 

Damage to Reputation

The danger of using celebrities to endorse your brand is that any discrepancies in their personal life can damage the reputation of the brand. Celebrities as brand ambassadors should be looked upon as role models or inspirational people for your customers.

 

 Tiger Woods Tag Heuer

 

In associating your brand to the celebrity it is intended that their positive public image is reflected on to your brand. An athlete who tarnishes their reputation by using drugs instantly strips value from any brand they were endorsing. Tiger Woods lost millions in sponsorship deals when brands were quick to disassociate with him after his marital indiscretions.

 

 Tiger Woods Carlos Papi Baez 33778 Tiger Woods Sponsors

 

 

Brands Like Winners

Sporting heroes are admired because of their talent and performance. They are desirable brand ambassadors as they inspire audiences and positively influence purchase decisions, as long as they are winning…

 

There is a risk to brands when investing in a sporting partnership in case the athlete is ‘off form’ or performs poorly. The value of the sports celebrity to the brand is only as valuable as his or her performance in the field. The ROI often lies in the amount of media coverage they receive. A player who is not getting the pitch time offers little value to the brand.

 

Personality is also a factor. If the athelete is lacking in the personality stakes then they are of little value as a brand representative at consumer-facing events or brand-focused media activity.

 

 Brian Gillette Endorsement

 

According to a national survey, Brian O’Driscol is Ireland’s most admired sports personality, favoured by one in four irish adults. It is a combination of his performance on the field with his personality off the field that makes him appeal to consumers and the brand alike.

  

While the use of celebrity endorsers has been shown to improve brand recall, increase brand awareness and help develop brand image, the cost of signing up strong celebritiy role models as brand endorsers is often prohibitively expensive to small business.

 

Even by Irish standards, IRU players can command €10,000. for a single corporate appearance, never mind the cost of exclusive brand partnership deals. There are however a number of ways to align your brand with a celebritiy ambassador without bursting your budget

 

 

Gifting

If you have identified a celebrity that fits with your brand identity and can increase your market penetration or reach with your target audience then gifting your product to that celebrity may be a way of gaining greater exposure for your brand.

 

Neff Headware is now popular street wear among snowboarders, surfers and other boarding customrs. Unable to pay for celebrity endorsement in their early days the company sent their merchandise to up and coming influencers in the sport. When the audience began seeing the brand being worn by their sporting idols the demand for the brand sky-rocketed with the company enjoying a 300% increase in revenue over the last 3 years.

 

 

Equity

There is a growing trend of getting aspirational celebrities on board as brand ambassadors by offering them an equity stake in the company. This allows the company to land high profile endorsement while maintaining cash flow. Furthermore, the celebrity has an incentive to continue their association with the brand and continue to offer promotional support.

 

 

Influencers

Traditional celebrity endorsers were those that had wide audince recognition and influence. Some of the biggest influencers of the 21st centuary come not from entertainers and athletes but from those with a large online following.

 

 Fashion Bloggers 600px

 

Frequently bloggers have as wide and significant a reach as traditional celebrities and demand fees of far less to promote a brand. By redefining ‘celebrity’, brands can harness these people with an engaged internet following and use their online voice to fuel marketing campaigns for the brand.

 

 

Charitable Causes

Many celebrities rely on sponsorship to suplement their salary. Therefore remaining relevant and maintaing a positive public perception is equally important for their earning potential.

 

Celebrities that have had their reputations tarnished in some way often look to improve their public image by being associated with charities and non profits. Small companies can use cause marketing to find common ground with potential customers. For every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, the company gives a new pair of shoes to a child in need. This makes the brand attractive to celebrities in public disrepute.

 

Celebrity endorsement is not for every brand but it certainly broadens the potential customer reach for those that find a suitable celebrity match.

 

 

• Have you considered if your brand is suitable for celebrity endorsement?

 

• Does your brand strategy include elements that would be attractive to a potential celebrity ambassador?

 

• What do you think of celebrity brand endorsement?

 

 

Drop us a line we’d love to hear your thoughts.