Brands work in ‘outdated’ and ‘laborious’ ways when it comes to celebrity partnerships

Brands are taking an “outdated” approach when it comes to finding celebrities to work with, according to new research.

The Celebrity Intelligence report, which was produced in partnership with Econsultancy, investigates how celebrity culture is changing and looks at how brand collaboration with artists and stars is continuing to evolve.

There were 355 marketing specialists who responded to the research request, which took the form of an online survey. Respondents included in-house brand marketers, agencies, consultants and media owners.

Of the marketers who responded, 69% are currently working with celebrities and a further 18% plan to embark on a celebrity engagement strategy over the next 12 months.

Relying on old-fashioned ways of research

Identifying celebrities that are a good fit for the brand is an ongoing challenge, and continues to be a time-consuming task. This is true for 66% of companies, who say they “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement.

The report shows that brands often use laborious ways of research when it comes to identifying the right celebrity partnerships. Two-thirds (66%) of company respondents are relying on manual searches of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, often relying on keyword and hashtag searches and limited engagement data.

Meanwhile, 59% of companies are depending on recommendations from friends, colleagues and peers in the industry, a strategy that experts interviewed as part of the research believe is “a little outdated”.

Budget challenges

Celebrities have traditionally proven pricey to work with, and the rise of social media influencers has not changed this. The cost of working with celebrities and budget restraints are proving the biggest challenge for 75% of companies. Within the survey findings, just over half of respondents agree with the statement that the rise of social media has made working with celebrities or social influencers more affordable.

Lucy Lendrem at Gleam Futures, which represents YouTube stars including Tanya Burr and Jim Chapman, says: “There is a perception that social talent is cheap, which it isn’t, because the market is so oversaturated with brands wanting to do something with the talent, that actually, they can pick and choose what they feel is the best fit, or the best brief, around what else they have in the schedule. It’s not cheap media anymore.” 

Despite this, 39% of companies say budgets are going to “increase significantly” or “increase moderately”, over the next year.

Measuring ROI

When it comes to measuring return-on-investment, press coverage is still important, and emerges as the primary indicator of success within the survey findings. Approximately three quarters of company respondents say they continue to use press coverage generated off the back of a campaign to judge a celebrity’s impact.

However, online and social media metrics are rising in importance. Web-generated traffic emerges as the second most important metric, with 73% of companies and 65% of agency respondents saying this is something they track. Additionally, the number of content shares and volume of online mentions seem to be of equal importance as a measure of success. Approximately two-thirds of respondents appear to be gathering this form of data.

Econsultancy is a sister publication of Marketing Week. ‘The Future of Celebrity Marketing’ research report can be read here.

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