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 email@example.com.
*This blog post was originally shared on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/celebrity-problem-victoria-manenti?trk=hb_ntf_MEGAPHONE_ARTICLE_POST