As we look ahead to 2013, one marketing communications trend where we can expect to see continued exponential growth is the trend of tapping celebrity star power to support cause campaigns. There’s no arguing that celebrities can have a powerful impact on causes. They have the unique ability to shine the national media spotlight on an issue, create meaningful connections with consumers and ultimately influence consumer perceptions and behaviors. However, not all celebrity-cause partnerships are created equal. Here are a few tips to consider when selecting a celebrity partner for your cause program:
- Connection to the Cause – Selecting someone with a personal connection to the issue can make a tremendous difference. Partnering with a celebrity who is deeply passionate about your cause ensures that the spokesperson can deliver messages to media and consumers in a way that is natural and deeply authentic. For example, in the case of the American Kidney Fund’s partnership with Laila Ali for the Pair Up campaign, Ali had a family history of high blood pressure and diabetes – the two leading risk factors for kidney disease, so this issue was incredibly important to her. As an established health advocate, Ali was also able to deliver the campaign’s health-related messages in a credible and genuine way.
- Relevance to Target Audience – Consider your target audience when selecting a celebrity spokesperson. The key is to partner with a spokesperson who will resonate and connect with your audience. A spokesperson who is highly relatable and appealing to your target audience will be more effective in driving consumer engagement and inspiring your audience to take action. To help the American Cancer Society reach women between the ages of 25-54 about the importance of cancer prevention, Cone enlisted two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank to develop a documentary film to bring the concept to life. Swank was a perfect fit because she is an A-list celebrity with tremendous consumer appeal who is also down to earth, highly relatable and would resonate with a broad audience of women. Furthermore, she is known for her commitment to a healthy lifestyle, has a deep, personal connection to cancer and has been recognized for her inspirational work on behalf of cancer-related issues.
- Embodies Brand Attributes – When exploring a celebrity spokesperson, it is crucial to ensure that the celebrity is a strong fit for your brand and embodies your brand attributes and values. As a spokesperson, the celebrity is acting as an ambassador for your brand, so it is essential that you select someone who presents an image that aligns with your brand. Likewise, it is valuable to evaluate a celebrity’s other partnerships and projects to ensure they aren’t in conflict with your cause. For example, when selecting a celebrity for a health-related campaign, you would want to ensure that the celebrity does not have any relationships with unhealthy brands or products that might diminish his or her credibility on the issue.
- Media Appeal – Celebrity spokespeople can bring tremendous impact to cause campaigns because of their ability to garner media and consumer attention for your cause or organization. You’ll want to consider the spokespersons’ level of media appeal and strength of their social media network. Celebrities that are well-recognized, have high-visibility projects in the pipeline and have strong media appeal will likely draw the greatest media attention and awareness for your program. Likewise, celebrities that have a highly engaged social following can help to expand the reach of your message.
Through careful research and evaluation, you can maximize the success of your celebrity partnership and ultimately deliver greater impact for your cause program.