Brands tapping into “authenticity” of reality star endorsements

World Cup athletes or A-list actors might seems like obvious contenders when thinking about the top endorsing celebrities, but new data suggests that brands are looking to make deals with reality stars that can lend authenticity and huge social media followings to their products.

Data from Marketing Week’s sister title Celebrity Intelligence shows that former Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh was the top celebrity endorser of 2014, with 13 fashion and beauty deals including ASOS, Dorothy Perkins, Claire’s and Nip + Fab.

Brands are tapping into the social media audiences surrounding reality stars through sponsorships with the likes of Mackintosh, who has nearly 900,000 followers on Instagram and 812,000 on Twitter and regularly posts photos of her daily life, lending a sense of legitimacy to the brands she endorses.

The Only Way Is Essex star Sam Faiers and Made in Chelsea’s Rosie Fortescue also made the top 20.

Sarah Mawson, head of celebrity at Celebrity Intelligence, says: “Reality stars are accessible and appealing because consumers already have a connection to them; they watch them every week and are exposed to the minutiae of their everyday lives through their social media channels. This authenticity is what consumers respond to and is very appealing to marketers.”

Mawson also says 2014 has seen a trend towards brands choosing bloggers and vloggers to endorse their products rather than traditional celebrities. Beauty brands such as L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and Chanel are frequently mentioned by vloggers such as Pixiwoo and Beautycrush who each have over 1.5 million subscribers to their channels, while Domino’s recently used the high profile Vine users Hue Samuel and Leslie Wei for a “Pizza Quest” campaign where the duo search for the ultimate slice of pizza.

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The value of the deals is unknown. However, it’s likely that those signed by Mackintosh, Faiers and Fortescue are for less money than those by global stars such as Pharrell Williams, who was the Top International Endorser of 2014.

Williams, who won four Grammy’s this year and was nominated for an Academy Award, ranked second overall with 11 endorsements thanks to deals with brands such as Chanel, Adidas, and G-Star RAW.

While models also rank highly on the list, their involvement with brands continues to become more collaborative, with the likes of Cara Delevigne, who came out at number six, designing collections for Mulberry and DKNY. The move for celebrities’ roles within brands to become more hands-on was replicated by Puma’s appointment of Rihanna as creative director last week.

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