Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brand Power Versus Celebrity Power

The importance of mapping endorsements against a broad brand lifecycle. What is the dollar value versus the brand value?

Endorsements are a given, nothing new to the market, but still remaining a huge influence as brands close in to marry their product to a personality, an aspiration. Chain stores and luxury brands alike are becoming increasingly interested in the dynamics between the celebrity and the consumer.

H&M launched the face of H&M Winter 12 campaign with Lana Del Ray, relatively new ‘all-American’ music success. The advertising budget was a significant spend, and also an investment to draw in sales for the last quarter for 2012, just before Christmas sold the product itself. David Beckham, a key fashion sex symbol has gone from Armani to H&M. The question here is not just what this endorsement has provided in dollar and branding value, but more interestingly, what has been the market response, second time round for Beckham as an underwear ambassador? Has his time with Armani diminished or heightened his presence as at H&M? Recycling endorsements must be a very mindful manoeuvre. The chain store champion knows itself and its scope to procure correct endorsements that match the brand fit. Dollar value aside, it’s aligning value to its brand, equally.

 In a paper published by the University of Arizona, ‘Economic Value of Celebrity Endorsements’, author Kevin Chung concludes that endorsements have a positive effect on profits if the company is mindful of the allocated endorsement time frame and behavioral evolution of the celebrity, making reference to Tiger Woods and the decline in Nike’s profits after his 2000 scandal.

To a lesser extent, Tom Ford pinup boy Jon Kortajarena was snatched up by Kenneth Cole in an attempt to resuscitate its lost brand personality and image. Kenneth Cole was viewed by many as on the decline and has since announced a move back to the premium clothing market. Giving a personality to your brand and marrying an endorsement to it does entail more carryover than acquiring the latest model, it requires a strategic shift in branding, an upheaval. These two cases really show the short shelf life endorsements have with a brand; the difference is who creates the stronger resonance? Tom Ford, at the height of global popularity launched with a personality before the model and the brand wore Jon. Jon wore Kenneth Cole for a campaign. Two separate markets to be sure, but Cole’s Winter Campaign spoke very little to the consumer of the brand and more of a popular face of the times.

No endorsement, no matter the scope or size, is ever long lasting, without a gamble. Revision is a must. It should always be periodic and mapped to the DNA of the brand at one given time. The key is to understand the power of the brand versus the power of the endorsements. You must be aware of each value and to play them with strategy. Mapping a brand life cycle against endorsers and understand that at each phase an endorsement can mean many different things and leave varying impressions. 

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