By Victoria Manenti
I recently came across an article on the Vanity Fair website about Sacai, a growing fashion brand, that does not place a strong emphasis on celebrity endorsement in its brand strategy. The article caught my attention because I think this strategy differs from what so many other brands are doing today. Sacai seeks to tap into its target audiences in the most intimate and genuine way possible. In other words, Sacai places strong emphasis on creating a “mini-army” of Sacai-wearing women in all shapes and sizes. The brand believes a word-of-mouth strategy among its most loyal consumers is the strongest way to expand its popularity.
“It’s not so much about celebrity dressing, but it’s actually about women referring the clothing to other women,” Chitose Abe, Sacai’s designer, says in the article.
I believe this is something more retail brands should be thinking about when trying to reach their customers. As stated in the article, so many retail brands rely on the use of celebrities to promote their clothing through advertisements, social media and highly publicized events. However, more and more customers are looking for brands that speak to them from a more real and authentic voice. When conducting research during my summer internship, I discovered that consumers, especially college-aged millennials, want brands to create messaging that doesn’t feel like an advertisement. These consumers also want to see average, everyday individuals featured in campaigns, rather than celebrities or models. The research may suggest that younger consumers are becoming more media literate and savvy when it comes to advertising, as well as public relations. Celebrity endorsements may not be resonating with these younger audiences as successfully as they were before. In my opinion, many brands must be more innovative than relying on celebrity endorsements to break though today’s information clutter. Brands must sustain a close relationship with its most loyal consumer base. These loyal consumers can become a brand’s most active promotional tool though customer-centric ambassador programs, advertisements and public relations campaigns.
Below, I’ve highlighted other brands that I believe are doing a successful job connecting to audiences without the use of celebrity endorsement.
Apple’s Shot on iPhone Campaign: The brand uses authentic, unedited imagery and video footage captured by its consumers directly in Apple advertising pieces.
Starbucks’ Holiday Red Cup Campaign: To celebrate this year's holiday season, Starbucks opted to use designs on its cups created by its artistic customer base to express the "shared spirit of the holidays."
Victoria’s Secret PINK’s Campus Representative Program: PINK leverages everyday college women to promote its products on campus through its successful brand ambassador program. The brand also uses content curated by the Campus Reps on PINK's official social media accounts.
Each of these brands does an effective job making its customers feel like a close part of its story and overall mission. Rather than using a celebrity endorsement, these brands allow everyday consumers to sell its brand message and newest products, creating powerful "mini-armies."
What are your thoughts on brands relying on celebrity endorsements? Do you think this strategy is as powerful as it used to be for retail companies? Let me know your thoughts below.
Victoria Manenti is a senior public relations major at Kent State. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This blog post was originally shared on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/celebrity-problem-victoria-manenti?trk=hb_ntf_MEGAPHONE_ARTICLE_POST
By: Haley Keding
It’s no longer acceptable for brands to have one, signature product. We live in the age of personalization where consumers want to be recognized as individuals while using products from the brands they know and love. This poses a challenge- how do brands become more personal but maintain a solid, unchangeable identity?
A consumer’s desire for personalization stems from the general human need to feel valued and loved. People want to feel special and be acknowledged for their uniqueness. Different social movements focus on the diversity of humanity by highlighting the uniqueness of our skin color, body shape, sexual orientation and family history. Society says each person is valued and important and brands need to think that way too.
So the question isn’t really how do brands create an individualized but unchangeable identity. Instead, we need to ask- how can we make consumers believe they are valued by our brands?
Nike demonstrated its value of consumers though NIKEiD, which is a “collaboration between you and Nike” and allows consumers to customize their own Nike products “exactly how you want.” Nike created a template for consumers to use and encouraged them to be creative with its product, successfully balancing its brand identity with the consumers need to feel valued.
Pura Vida bracelets also embrace consumer individuality. The bracelet company donates a portion of its profits to charitable organizations and offers a wide variety of bracelets that support different philanthropic causes. Pura Vida allows its consumers to choose the charity they want to support and purchase a bracelet that corresponds with the cause. Pura Vida promotes individuality and diversity through its range of bracelets while also encouraging its consumers to do good.
by Elline Concepcion
It’s what we, as public relations practitioners, are responsible for. We deal with brands and reputations, and we know the importance of maintaining a positive one. We always have room to learn from brand management stories; this is where The Captain comes in.
Derek Jeter, The Captain of the New York Yankees, has retired from baseball after 20 years in the major leagues. Jeter has had amazing achievements throughout his career that can be summed up by the 2,734 games Jeter has played, the five World Series championship rings and the Yankee pinstripes he has been wearing since he began as a rookie. Since the beginning of this career he has kept his reputation positive and has mastered brand management. We can all learn from Jeter’s legacy.
Professionalism is at the top of the list of what Jeter has done correctly over the course of his career. He remained professional on and off the field. He kept his private life private and allowed his achievements to show his character.
Jeter’s loyalty to his team and to his fans also made his brand stronger. He was able to stay with the same team throughout his career and remained loyal to his teammates. Jeter was never one to talk about his teammates and kept their locker room conversations private.
Another important takeaway from Jeter’s brand management was the manner in which he handled his endorsements. Jeter made his endorsements subtle and made his interactions with these endorsers natural. He didn’t tweet about the brands he endorsed or carry a Gatorade bottle with him everywhere he went. Jeter allowed his career and his performance on the field to be the focus of his legacy.
Jeter was smart about how he handled interviews. He was a good listener and made sure what he said was thought out before he spoke. Jeter was respectful to other players, his team and to himself.
Most important in relation to brand management is being true to your character. This is what Jeter did. He was always natural with his fans and stayed away from the typical cocky jock persona. The Captain knew what was important to him and made sure everything he did was true to his core values.
Jeter’s ability to maintain a positive brand image for 20 years is one reason why he is remarkable. This ability has allowed him to have a positive foundation for future projects and endeavors.