Does your celebrity have the $-factor?

When looking to forge profitable celebrity partnerships brands cannot rely on instinct alone. Analysing data to discover which stars offer the most social currency is the latest way to decide on a perfect match.

david beckham
Sock it to ‘em: David Beckham is a current face of H&M

Gala Bingo’s new ad campaign to relaunch its website uses a man who found fame singing about a mysterious girl under a waterfall, while showing off his six pack.

But Peter Andre – the singer in question and star of reality TV – wasn’t chosen because of the marketing director’s music taste, rather it is the star’s following on Facebook and Twitter, similar to that of Gala Bingo, which sealed the deal.

It may seem an unlikely pairing but data on Andre’s social networking showed that those who follow him also show propensity to like online bingo, using a tool from agency dot.talent. Its tool, Talent.rank, analyses the digital ‘footprint’ of 5,000 celebrities using metadata to show particular characteristics, such as whether they are in reality TV or swear for example, combined with what they do on Twitter and other social sites.

Who could match your brand? Choose your sector from the list below to see some examples…

Food and drink

Health and fitness

Sport and outdoor



…Or, try out the matching tool below using data from dot.talent. For example if the audience you want to reach loves food, type ‘food’ into the box to see the top ranking social celebrities in that sector.:

Social networks

Littlewoods has also used the tool to help choose a celebrity to front its brand and used designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen to present a live TV show on Facebook. “Social status is now the new currency in the celebrity world,” says Andrew Roscoe, head of brand, celebrity and sponsorship for the brand.

But before the ads went live, the designer wasn’t all that active on social networks. “He hadn’t got a big social presence but the content that he created was perfect for that social media environment,” adds Roscoe. “The collaboration was one which drove huge amounts of interest in the brand and generated traffic and has set Laurence off creating a better social footprint of his own.”

Littlewoods’ latest brand ambassador Myleene Klass was chosen based on data. The company has a consumer panel for each of its brands and it regularly puts in celebrity names to gauge consumers’ responses. Klass came out as one of the most popular and fashion credible. This seems to have paid off, as sales targets for the first month were beaten by 14 per cent and during July this year the retailer sold an average of one item every 20 minutes from her range.

Littlewoods is part of the Shop Direct Group who also use brand ambassadors Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby for the brand, they have 3.5mn and 2.5mn Twitter followers respectively.

Gala Bingo

Data is something that Gala Bingo also took into account when choosing Andre to face its campaign – and this helped when trying to persuade its chief executive he was the right face for the brand.

“The choice of Peter Andre was an interesting one because when I first mentioned it to the group chief executive officer Carl Leaver, he looked at me and his jaw dropped. He said, ‘A guy for Gala Bingo? Peter Andre? You’re the marketing guy, but it doesn’t sound right to me,” says Gala Interactive marketing director Alex Czajkowski.

So he decided to make a decision based on data. “It’s not good enough to run out a half million pound TV campaign on a hunch or suspicion,” says Czajkowski. So the company surveyed 60,000 players to explore who they would like to meet, who could best represent the brand in an advert and which celebrities were their favourites. Andre came out as one of the top celebrities – and the social talent index shows that he is ranked as the number one reality TV star.

An important component of a celebrity partnership is the positive effect it has on people’s perception of the brand. Roscoe at Littlewoods says: “When we worked with Trinny and Susannah, it had a very positive impact on our brand, them being [body] shape advice experts meant that people began to see us as experts on shape. We rub off some of the values and equity of that individual celebrity onto our brand as well.”

Long-term partnerships

Other brands are known for more obvious tie-ups. H&M has become known for its designer collaborations and is now looking to other industries. The singer Lana Del Rey is its latest model, with has a wide reach similar to H&M, with 1m Twitter followers and 2m Facebook fans and will be seen on a video campaign on the retailer’s website.

David Beckham is also a current face of H&M, with his underwear featuring at 1,800 stores in 44 countries. A spokesperson says it is using the Beckham collaboration to solidify its fashion credentials

gabby logan
Social butterflies: Gabby Logan (above) and Myleene Klass (below right)

“Our communication should strengthen the brand and image as a global fashion company in the long-term. The long-term global partnership with David Beckham is a unique opportunity to offer millions of male fans and H&M’s customers a range designed by one of the world’s most important football players – as well as a fantastic style icon.”

This idea of shared values also played a part in the partnership between sports presenter Gabby Logan and Speedo. Logan is not only the face of Speedo’s new Sculpture range, she is fronting a panel to help give women the confidence they need to get back into the water after not swimming for a while.

The ‘Plunge Panel’ was devised after new research revealed the body insecurities felt by women when trying on swimwear. Sally Polak, Speedo’s UK and Ireland marketing manager says: “We wanted to create a PR campaign that resonated with women, particularly mums and encourage them to feel confident in their swimwear. The crux of landing this message was to have a strong female ambassador.”

Polak adds: “Gabby is an excellent choice for the panel as she is passionate about swimming and swims regularly. More importantly, she’s a well-respected high profile female who happens to be a mum and has an achievable figure, which is important for our audience. We didn’t want whoever we picked to feel intimidating.”

Although the brand did take into account her social status, it wasn’t the deciding factor, Polak says: “I would still bear in mind the more traditional tools and use my own instinct too; social media tools would inform that.” Logan features at number 389 of the 5,000 celebrities on the talent ranking, with a 48 per cent female following and the most recent blogs referring to the swimwear tie up.

Celebrity endorsement

However, brands must not just assume that an unlimited amount of money can buy a celebrity endorsement. Richard Thompson, founder of talent management company Merlin Elite, which looks after Jamie and Louise Redknapp, Jodie Kidd and Freddie Flintoff, says: “There is a saying: if you ‘grin and bank it’ within the industry, then you will regret it.”

mylene klass

Thompson says that famous faces are often judged by the most recent thing they did – and if that was an endorsement that wasn’t well-received, it might affect their ability to get the next job. “It is the agent’s and manager’s responsibility as much as anybody to ensure it’s the right fit. Any campaign that backfires has lasting damage for both [celebrity] and brand.”

Nike’s Twitter campaign with Wayne Rooney backfired earlier this year – although it is doubtful if this has done lasting brand damage. Tweets by Wayne Rooney were ‘banned’ by the ASA earlier in the year, as they were not correctly labelled as being promotional.

Brands must also be careful to make sure their celebrities are relevant to their audience. Andrew Roscoe at Littlewoods gives Fearne Cotton as an example. He says: “Some celebrities grow up and their styles change – you have to be aware of that and how that is perceived by your customers. We chose Fearne because of her kooky, individual style. Previously you would have never seen her in a tea dress, but she has grown up in the last four years that we have worked with her and that style is reflected in her collection.”

Littlewoods also had a challenge with current ambassador Myleene Klass and her association with M&S. Roscoe adds: “Well known celebrities like Myleene had been with one brand for such a long time. It will always be a challenge for us, however we are investing significantly in advertising. Myleene is the focus of our campaigns and part of that is to make sure we galvanise that association with us rather than M&S.

“It will be a difficult job for us. We are sure that with the campaigns that we have run and that we will be running through our peak period, that won’t be an issue.”

Up and coming stars

Yet it isn’t always the big established names that brands are interested in: they are also looking for people who have a large following on social media. Burberry, for example, seeks up and coming people to front its campaigns and this season, little-known musician Roo Panes features, someone who has a large social following. Dot.talent also reports that people who are becoming stars on YouTube and blog sites are becoming more popular with marketers, as well as non-famous people who make it on to reality TV.

Tony Jones, head of creative at Dot.talent says: “Reality TV stars have the equivalent of a day-time TV audience following them. So, those large numbers are quite persuasive to marketers to be able to talk to that audience without having to spend a lot of money on traditional media.”

What makes these rising stars popular for marketers is that they have an audience already tuned in to the stars’ interest, says Jones. “If they are looking to benefit from the social following of a celebrity there are huge upsides, as they bring a readymade audience so the marketing pounds can go a lot further.”

But brands can also run into problems regarding the choice of celebrity. Czajkowski at Gala Bingo says: “As always when you get tied up with a celebrity, there’s always a few that don’t like them. Some people took the piss out of Peter for having hooked up with Gala Bingo. That’s always disconcerting but you’re not going to please all people all the time.”

When celebrity social endorsements go wrong

Nike got in hot water when brand ambassador Wayne Rooney sent a tweet on new year’s day directing people to the brand’s Make it Count website. It was handed a red card by the ASA in June and Nike had to withdraw the tweets as it did not make it clear that they were promotional.

Hair salon chain Toni & Guy became the second brand to have its tweets banned, after Gemma Collins, star of ITV’s ‘The only way is Essex’, tweeted that she had ‘amazeballs’ hair colour at the Lakeside branch, but without making clear that this was advertising.

Meanwhile, tweets were also sent from Rio Ferdinand’s account on behalf of Snickers but these were cleared by the ASA for including the hashtag #spon to show that his comments were sponsored.

Richard Thompson at celebrity agency Merlin Elite says that brands must be careful when they ask celebrities to endorse something via Twitter. “We are very nervous about commercialising someone’s Twitter,” he says. “It can be done but you have to be very careful. Social media watchers get very cynical if somebody is using their following to try and sell them something.

“[It is fine] as long as the celebrity is upfront about the fact they are working for a particular brand and they are not doing it in a covert way, where the following are fooled into thinking they are endorsing something they are not being paid for.”

Gala Bingo

peter andre

Reality-TV star and pop-singer Peter Andre was chosen to front a new TV campaign for’s launch promotion: ‘Win Win Bingo’.

The brand went through a multi-million pound makeover of the website, Gala Interactive, the Gibraltar-based division of the Gala Coral Group responsible for and, opted for a celebrity-led TV campaign featuring an “if you lose, you get your money back” promotion.

The choice of Peter Andre as the front man for the new launch and TV promotion was not without controversy: no other UK bingo operation has used a male celebrity to lead their TV promotions. But after surveys to over 60,000 players and consultation on the players’ top celebrity choices “social footprint,” Andre was chosen.

Alison Digges, director at Gala Coral Group, says: “I remember thinking: who do I think would be a good match for Gala Bingo and Peter was one of them. It wasn’t a surprise at all. People love him because he’s homely, portrayed very well in the media, he never tends to put a foot wrong. For us we needed somebody who would be good for the brand and he had similar homely images, which is what Gala is about.”

“Win Win is all about giving back to the players, the reinvention of Gala. It has been a sleeping giant for quite a while and this is about bringing it back into a serious bingo site. Our aim is to be number one again. We will continue to use celebrities, as we know our players love celebrities.”

Peter Andre told Marketing Week: “Gala is doing four of these campaigns a year, it knows its market and it is getting people in the industry that are known faces. I’m the first but I can guarantee I won’t be the last, you will see somebody [new] fronting this campaign every few months now.”

It seems that the star himself didn’t realise the huge following that Gala Bingo has in the UK.

Andre adds: “It’s a family game. The amount of people that I have met that play bingo has shocked me. To be chosen by players is unbelievable. I just can’t believe how many people play it.”

How celebrities are matched with brands

Dot.talent has created a list of brands with associated social ambassadors suggested using Talent.rank, its social ranking tool. The rationale goes beyond looking at the talent’s social following, but also takes into account various attributes that match those of the brand’s consumers.

For instance, keywords such as ‘foodie’, or ‘housewife appeal’, also come into it. Dot.talent works closely with brands to fine-tune the list based on other requirements. The list comprises of the brand, its following and celebrity candidates, which lists name, social following, male and female split and key words.

Dot.talent’s social celebrity index focuses on the digital and social footprint of 5,000 listed celebrities, with various metadata so that it attributes whether they are in reality TV, or even whether they swear, for example Gordon Ramsey.

The system then looks at the number of likes that each celebrity has, whether they have a Facebook or Twitter account, how many mentions they have on YouTube and as well as the number of views. It builds up a score, based on the social aspect as well as how many times the celebrity has appeared in news and blogs and gives a single score at the end – which is presented as a ranking.

Tony Jones, head of creative at Dot.talent says: “It’s a bit like fixing somebody up with a hot date. Gala Bingo had a very specific idea of who it would like. It was looking for a female soap star and obviously Peter Andre didn’t fit within that category. But it actually turned out that they had a very specific audience that Peter Andre could equate to. The following of Peter Andre matched that of Gala Bingo.”

Which celebrity is best for your brand?

Food & Drink

Example: Aunt Bessie
Brand following: 70 per cent female, aged 35-54.

Celebrity candidates:

Gino D’acampo

Facebook: 616,325 Twitter: 779,793
67 per cent female
Key words: Food and Drink, TV Presenter, Chef, Daytime TV, Humour, Housewife-appeal

Sarah Millican

Facebook: 102,173 Twitter: 562,988
61 per cent female
Key words: Comedian, TV, BBC

Philip Schofield

Facebook: 41,990 Twitter: 1,852,415
59 per cent female
Key words: TV Presenter, Daytime TV, Housewife-appeal

Health & Fitness

Example: Sweaty Betty
Brand following: 86 per cent female, aged 25-34

Celebrity candidates:

Alesha Dixon

Facebook: 192,429 Twitter: 425,955
63 per cent female
Key words: Strictly Come Dancing, Dance, Music, Presenter

Kimberley Walsh

Facebook:10,834 Twitter: 238,265
68 per cent female
Key words: Strictly Come Dancing, Music, Actress, Dance

Victoria Pendleton

Facebook: 70,674 Twitter: 208,711
54 per cent male
Key words: Strictly Come Dancing, Olympian, Athlete, Cycling, Gold Medal

Sport & Outdoor

Example: Blacks
Brand following: 64 per cent male, aged 25-34

Celebrity candidates:

Ben Fogle

Facebook: N/A Twitter: 67,356
61 per cent female
Key words: Castaway, Outdoor, TV Presenter, Survival, Adventure, BBC

Bruce Parry

Facebook: N/A Twitter: 24,724
67 per cent male
Key words: Marine, Adventure, Survival, Discovery Channel, TV Presenter, Outdoor, BBC

Kate Humble

Facebook: 2,917 Twitter: 37,506
53 per cent male
Key words: TV Presenter, BBC, Wildlife, Science, Outdoor, Countryfile

Julia Bradbury

Facebook: 3,884 Twitter: 32,905
52 per cent male
Key words: Outdoor, Survival, Wildlife, Walking, BBC, TV Presenter, Countryfile


Example: Lush
Brand following: 86 per cent female, aged 18-34

Celebrity candidates:

Leona Lewis

Facebook: 3,010,969 Twitter: 715,778
67 per cent female
Key words: WSPA Charity, Vegan, Music, London, Green

Imelda May

Facebook:183,150 Twitter: 16,072
62 per cent female
Key words: Irish, Music, Vegetarian, Green

Gabby Logan

Facebook: N/A Twitter: 222,662
52 per cent male
Key words: TV Presenter, Mum, Green, Future Friendly Charity


Example: Hunter
Brand following: 77 per cent female, aged 25-34

Celebrity candidates:

Fearne Cotton

Facebook: 249,203 Twitter: 3,702,582
63 per cent female
Key words: Music, Fashion, Festival, BBC, TV, Radio, Designer

Caroline Flack

Facebook:14,171 Twitter: 965,221
64 per cent female
Key words: Music, TV, Fashion, Festival

Myleene Klass

Facebook: 5,986 Twitter: 308,824
65 per cent female
Key words: Fashion, Music, Mum

Annie Mac

Facebook: 123,100 Twitter: 341,688
45 per cent male
Key words: Music, DJ, Festival, Fashion

Millie Mackintosh

Facebook: 12,934 Twitter: 432,583
70 per cent female
Key words: Made in Chelsea, Fashion, Music, Festival

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