Celebrity sponsorship used to be all about paying a famous sports figure or entertainer to hawk a product. These days, consumers are increasingly suspicious of arrangements based solely on money. Some brands are responding by changing the nature of their relationship with celebrities.
The new trend for celebrity sponsorships is all about partnering. A recent Ad Age article highlights how more entertainers are now actively participating in product development and marketing in high-profile arrangements – Lady Gaga with Polaroid and Beyonce with Pepsi, for example. These deals involve more than money – the celebrity is often pitched as part of the creative team and may be given an official title at the company.
Branding consultant Denise Lee Yohn says there’s no question that brands are attempting to improve their authenticity with consumers as they forge stronger bonds with celebrities. In some cases, these individuals may really be participating in the creative process to a greater degree than has been done before.
But these arrangements are subject to the same kinds of problems that traditional sponsorship deals encountered. If the celebrity has allegiance to a competitor brand, consumers notice. The contracts must be clear about what the brand expects from the celebrity in terms of involvement. And then there’s the age-old problem of reputation. When the celebrity finds himself encumbered in a personal disaster, as is the case with South African Olympic star, Oscar Pistorius, brands must be prepared to move quickly to limit the damage.[Sources: Zmuda, Natlie and Parekh, Rupal. Adage.com. 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2013; Davis, Rebecca. Sponsors flee Oscar Pistorius. Daily;maverick.com.za. 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2013]