In a recent issue of SUCCESS Magazine, Chris Brogan recently wrote, “Nobody admits to watching reality shows and yet half the top 10 TV shows last year were from among that category.” These days, it’s easy to become “famous for being famous.” Look at some of the breakout stars of reality TV: Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Basketball Wives’ Evelyn Lozada, and of course, who will ever forget Kim Kardashian? Reality stars are going hard to stretch their 15 minutes of fame these days, however, fan relevance (if that’s what one wishes to call them) and ratings aren’t the only thing they’re after. These things do matter, but there’s more – and it’s all about the Benjamins in the endgame, especially reality show endorsements.
Reality stars, especially those who have amassed a serious following, can make a killing leveraging their popularity as social influencers for hip and trendy brands seeking a boost in recognition – and sales – from consumers. You name it, the opportunity is there to for your favorite reality celebrity to market it: Remi Hair, alcohol, clothing, iPhone accessories, nightclubs, baby products… and of course, lip gloss. (I think lip gloss and makeup lines always seem to find their way into a reality star’s business line.)
It would shock you to know how effortlessly you could throw a reality celeb’s name on your product. All it takes is a few bucks and (usually) a good product or service. But the question you should be asking isn’t how easy it is, but how profitable and intelligent is it to do so.
Can you apply a celebrity branding for your business? Yes. Will applying the celebrity brand – specifically a reality celebrity brand – truly help your business get an edge in your industry? The answer isn’t so simple.
Celebreality = 24/7 Billboards for Brand Endorsement
Event & Retail Placements in Actual Episodes
Reality shows are increasingly popular platforms for slick product or event placement. As a business owner, you might find event placement to be a highly considerable option if you own a restaurant, boutique, event space, nightclub or anywhere patrons can gather together for dining, shopping or entertainment. Showcasing your venue as the place where “X Celebrity confronted Y Celebrity” or where “X and Y partied with random celebrity guest” jolts considerable voltage into your brand, and social proof that your place is “cool.”
Evolve Dance Studio in Los Angeles, for example, has been featured in the reality series Girls Next Door. How many women, do you think, get an extra jolt of excitement when they think of taking pole dance classes with the same instructors – and on the same poles – that Hugh Hef’s personal tribe of Playboy Bunnies used? Sounds corny, but don’t underestimate this; these things make for bragging rights.
Times have changed since the marriage of advertising, celebrities and television. Consumers are savvier every year, so advertisers’ claims are no longer taken at face value. Social proof is needed, including reviews and endorsements by those of social influence.
Since marketing companies can’t convince customers a product is effective and useful by themselves, sponsoring a reality celebrity, such as Kim Kardashian (who has endorsements with Midori, QuickTrim and Skechers to name a few) to use an item on camera, or talk about it on Twitter or Facebook, can prove beneficial for “naturally” marketing a product or service that may otherwise go ignored during a 30-second commercial break.
3 Reasons Reality Show Endorsements can be Good for Your Business
Reality show endorsements are lucrative for many reasons. They provide:
1. Influence. When a reality show cast member is seen using a product, their brand popularity transfers onto the product and connects favorably to interested audience members influenced by that cast member.
2. Recognition. Reality shows have lots of dedicated viewership. Businesses may not be paid in order to have their service or product shown live on air, but nothing adds clout to than being shown or seen on TV, especially in the hands of the show’s most popular stars.
3. Demonstration. Reality endorsements don’t simply require someone to say they use the product and recommend it, but to immerse the product into their lifestyle in front of the camera. Demonstration of how naturally a certain product or service fits into the hectic schedule of the reality star sends a message that it will fit just as effortlessly into the viewer’s life, convincing viewers they might benefit from the service or product use as well.
Is Applying a Reality Star Endorsement Beneficial for Your Biz?
Reality show endorsements can be an excellent way of getting noticed in front of an audience for so many reasons. A well-placed endorsement centers your product in front of a highly-captive audience – and, if the star really likes your product, their enthusiasm transfers to the audience with considerable influence.
-turned-love guru Steve Harvey’s timeless classic Think Like a Man was heavily pitched in a reality show product placement on VH1′s Basketball Wives, with a special screening and all. This worked because the movie’s desired demographic – young women interested in laughs and drama – were passionate devotees to the BBW show. Every woman whose interest was piqued about the movie before the episode was given an extra boost of reinforcement to go see it after watching the episode.
Determine if Reality Show Marketing is Ideal for You
When considering reality or celebrity endorsements for your product or service, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who do I consider my target audience to be for my product or service?
- Why do I want this audience?
- What are the psychographics of my audience?
- Which celebrities, reality or otherwise if any, reflect my audience’s personality or desires?
- What type of relationship can I build with my desired consumer based on the person I want to sponsor them?
- What potential risks are associated with using this celebrity to brand or endorse my product?
- Does this brand work well with others?
- What opportunities and restrictions would I place on my positioning in the marketplace with the use of this celebrity?
Dangers of Reality Show Product Placement and Branding
1. The Reality Star IS your marketing plan.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the celebrity endorsement is all you need to make money and promote your business. Nothing exceeds a dope marketing and sales plan. You can’t convince Kim Kardashian to wear your luxury clothes and take cute pictures primped and posing in them for Twitter or Facebook and let that serve as your primary marketing and sales strategy. (Kanye may be an exception.)
Build your celebrity endorsement into your overall marketing plan, use it as a nod for sales promotions and build a strategy around it. But don’t ever rely upon the celebrity alone to successfully move your product themselves.
2. Your brand suffers lack of credibility.
Reality branding be wildly successful, but again, I stress, that’s only if your product is meant for celebrity endorsement. Sure, it may seem cute or trendy to get someone to push your new weave hair line, wear your T-Shirts on Instagram or talk about the amazing iPhone you pimped out and gifted them with, but not every business needs the Midas touch from a star. And the wrong brand combinations would backfire.
Abercrombie & Fitch conjured nightmarish visions of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s minions running through their stores to get clothing he wore on The Jersey Shore, and basically begged his arse not to wear their clothing – to the tune offering money for him to comply. His co-star, Ronnie, endorsed Hydroxycut in an entirely laughable and unconvincing commercial – mainly because he was already ripped when he was initially introduced to fame. Why would anyone believe that an already fit guy actually needed – and used – a weight loss pill to get into shape?
Make sure your brand meshes well with the intended network, show and personal brand your desired celebrity endorser has. Pepsi and Nicki Minaj boost each other’s brands; Ronnie and Hydroxycut is simply a disaster.
3. Celebrity PR Crisis becomes YOUR PR Crisis.
What happens if your desired celebrity falls into obscurity like any number of the random members of the Real World or Flavor of Love? Or even worse, is caught within a dangerous PR crisis that threatens to pull the plug on their image a la Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson, or his estranged-wife Evelyn? Your company runs the risk of appearing to have chosen a side in the matter, even if your PR person never uttered a word.
Company Brand is the True Foundation for Identifying Positive Reality Show Endorsements and Celebrity Branding Opportunities
Without carefully considering who you plan to pitch a marketing deal to for your company, you’re putting yourself and everything you’ve worked for at risk because you’re getting caught up in the power of this person’s temporary celebrity without looking at the long term effects their inclusion may have on your business.
Creating a strong celebrity endorsement strategy begins by outlining your business’ brand, starting with organizational values and messages. What is important to the brand? Who does it serve specifically?
Next, move into your market research. Where (in the market) is the best intersection of your company’s bread and butter (profits) and value represented? Do they watch TV, let alone reality TV? And if so, does their spending have enough disposable income? How much of that income is spent in your industry? When you have focus groups with these individuals, how favorably do they respond to the list of potential celebrities you reveal an interest in partnering with? And how would their endorsements or public use of your product/service/venue enhance your overall marketing plan?