In this day and age, celebrity is a valuable commodity. Famous faces are aspirational – if a Gillette razor is good enough for a national hero like David Beckham, if Cheryl Cole, the woman that every young girl wants to be, washes her glistening tresses with L’Oreal shampoo, the buying logic is that these must surely be products of the finest craftsmanship and good enough for someone like me!
Consumers trust these faces, we buy into them. And of course, the brand managers and marketing men cottoned on a long time go to the sales potential of a famous face. Unifying the right celebrity face + the right product = massive sales revenue! So, from superstar A-Listers to wannabes teetering on the nether region of the alphabet, celebs are queuing up left, right and centre to extol the benefits of their favourite life-enhancing must-haves and promote the hell out of them for a lucrative payday.
All well and good if you honour the terms of your endorsement but a celebrity ambassador can find themselves in hot water if they rub their sponsors up the wrong way.
Peter Andre recently found himself in the doghouse after a joke aimed at Iceland, a company that pays him handsomely to promote their brand, royally backfired. Responding to singer Olly Murs’ embarrassment at winning the Rear of the Year award, Andre quipped back on ITV2’s Celebrity Juice: “Olly, dude, you don’t need to be embarrassed, I’ve done an Iceland advert.”
On this occasion, Iceland graciously stuck by Andre and defended him, however, the fans went nuclear on social media, accusing him of biting the hand that feeds him and calling for him to be fired.
Iceland wasn’t quite so supportive when previous brand ambassador Kerry Katona admitted to her drug woes though, relinquishing her of her ambassadorial position. Stacey Solomon was stripped of her Mum of the Year title after being pictured smoking while pregnant, Tiger Woods’ infidelity seriously alienated his sponsors and I very much doubt that Lady Gaga’s perfumer was impressed when she likened the scent of her fragrance to that of an “expensive hooker”.
It’s all well and good that celebs have commercial agents on board to identify these endorsement opportunities and broker the deals, but if you’re a big name paid in the big league to promote a big brand, you need to seriously consider refreshing your media etiquette before going on record.
Whether it’s offending your sponsors on TV, a flippant Tweet on social media that’s miscommunicated and misinterpreted (and spreads like wildfire!) or a contentious comment in a print interview, this can all be avoided if PRs, managers and agents all remember the importance – and virtues – of media training.
The media is a minefield and an experienced media trainer will comprehensively prepare their celebrity client for any contact with the media, reminding them of the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’, the tactics to employ and the pitfalls to sidestep.
When careers are at stake and serious money is on the line, many celebrities will agree that a strategically timed media training session is the best investment they ever made.