Celebrity Marketing - for Midsize & Foreign Companies


I am always on the prowl for novel ideas for midsize companies to compete more effectively with deep-pocketed (and entrenched) large companies. Here’s an idea used by the BIG companies that can be easily adapted for the midmarket – celebrity marketing.  Celebrity marketing can accelerate brand recognition, open more doors and drive revenue growth.  It is analogous to standing on the shoulders of giants –get leverage fast and results quickly. Whether your company is a midmarket/SMB/SME company or a foreign company with a little-known brand in this country, you can leverage celebrity marketing at midmarket prices (yes, you can!).

What is Celebrity Marketing?  

Celebrity marketing is simply leveraging famous and familiar faces to create brand associations in the minds of prospects and customers.  The fame of celebrities and their attributes (what they are known for) enhances the awareness and credibility of the brands they associate with. 

If you are an unknown or lesser known brand, it can help you build or increase brand awareness.  If you are in a crowded market with similar competitors, it helps your brand stand out.  If the competitors use traditional and rudimentary marketing it can help you even more. 

You can also ‘open doors’ into difficult accounts or prospects.  For example, if Randall Cunningham, former quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles calls a Philadelphia-area CEO (known to be a football fan) and asks for an in-person meeting, he will almost certainly get it.  He can casually add, “I’ve partnered with the Acme Company and will be bringing its CEO, John Doe to the meeting with me.”  You just landed a big meeting. 

Others have also used celebrities to increase attendance and build better relationships with prospective customers, partners and suppliers and employees.  You can also leverage a celebrity’s followers to build your own social media campaign and increasing sales with a quick endorsement.  There are many such creative ways in which you can leverage celebrities to meet your business objectives. 

Celebrity Marketing for Foreign Companies

Celebrity marketing is also beneficial to foreign companies operating in the U.S.  Having an American celebrity as the face of your German, Indian, or Chinese product for example, helps to build a recognizable and brand through a recognizable and trusted celebrity. For example, did you know that Adidas and Puma are both German companies?  Adidas’s US ambassador is James Harden of the Houston Rockets; and for Puma, it’s Jamaal Charles of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs – American market, American face.

Some foreign companies also leverage the popularity of American celebrities in foreign marketing campaigns.  For example, Ninetology, a Malaysian smart phone company hired American basketball players Cliff Robinson, Dough Christie and Latrell Sprewell to help them launch the Ninetology U9 smart phone. 


Isn’t Celebrity Marketing very expensive?

If you only want to use Michael Jordan or George Clooney, they will obviously be expensive.  However, there are many professional athletes - current and retired - entertainers and key influencers (like bloggers, accomplished people and public personalities) available at much lower prices.  Here’s a way to think about it.

On average, a midsized company (or a foreign company without a marketing agency) seeking to establish its brand would hire marketers that conduct rudimentary marketing at a cost to the company of $100k - $125k per person per year.  Take the cost of hiring one or two full-time employees and instead use it on celebrity marketing – getting a quicker return on marketing dollars.

Celebrities may also choose to become part of your franchise/company and give it a big boost.  Mark Blount, of the Miami Heat NBA franchise, purchased two 'Auntie Annie's' franchises and became the owner/operator/promoter of the franchises in Florida.  Within months, with Mark's promotion, they were among the fastest growing franchisees in the entire network.  Read this story from the Palm Beach Post -  


With clarity of your business objectives and what your brand stands for (or wants to stand for), you can re-allocate money from traditional and outdated marketing to celebrity marketing.  The key to successful celebrity marketing is connecting the right celebrity with the right company, product or service.  What are some other ways you think celebrities can be leveraged to boost your business?

How can I find out more, you ask?

If you want to leverage celebrities to market your company, product or service, we can put you in touch with people who can guide you through the process.

What are some other ways you think celebrities can be leveraged to boost your business?  Please add your comments below...


- Ram V. Iyer