Brand Ambassador: Do You Need One?

Does a brand ambassador add star appeal

The world is awash with celebrity endorsement, from George Clooney selling Nescafe to Roger Federer supporting the luxurious charm of Rolex Watches. So does your brand need a brand ambassador, and is Amber Chia still available?

To the second question – the answer is no. But as to whether you need a brand ambassador? Well that’s all down to the particular value such endorsement could unlock for your brand.

There’s no doubt that having a brand ambassador can be a powerful tool to establish and promote your own brand personality. A luxury cosmetics brand could find enormous value in being represented by a highly fashionable celebrity. But will your B2B IT Services company be able to justify shelling out RM100,000 for a quick photo shoot with Michelle Yeoh? Probably not.

Here are some things to consider in deciding if a brand ambassador is the right choice for you.

Star power sells

Celebrities are big news. That means big news coverage. If you want to see the impact that can have, just look at fashion fantastic sales boosts from the UK’s newest princess – Meghan Markle. In one case, a Canadian fashion house sold out their entire stock of coats… just five hours after Meghan had been spotted wearing one on live TV. You can’t argue with that kind of star appeal.

Paying for the targeted services of a high-profile celebrity doesn’t come cheap. Basketball superstar Le Bron James’ deal with Nike is rumoured to be worth over a billion dollars. That’s insane money for a guy to be photographed enjoying your new trainers. However, when you consider research that shows that celebrity endorsements by athletes increase sales by 4%, and that Nike’s global sales are expected to be over US$34 billion in 2018, you begin to see the bigger picture.

The point is – paying the big bucks can get you big results, but don’t go dreaming of big celebrity endorsement unless you’ve got the money to pay for it.

Don’t forget about the new influencers

It’s easy to get bogged down in thoughts of A-list celebrities when it comes to a brand ambassador, but the digital landscape has opened up a new world of global influencers.

Youtubers, vloggers and bloggers all offer huge possibility when it comes to the role of brand ambassador. This new form of influencer marketing can be hugely rewarding, with a 2017 Nielsen Study revealing that influencer marketing was more successful than traditional advertising for influencing in-shop purchasing decisions.

This new generation of digital influencers also often have areas of focus that might dovetail more closely with your brand. A luxury Instagram Lifestyle Nomad ™ is going to be the perfect match for your new boutique hotel. Make it aspirational, without aspiring to shell out for a Hollywood superstar.

Understand what works with your audience

If you do want to explore the possibility of a brand ambassador, make sure you pick the right ambassador for your brand. If you’re launching a new fashion range for women, you’re unlikely to want to pay Ben Stiller to model a saree for wide appeal. Consider your brand personality, and consider the ambassador that has attributes that match.

Part of this is down to considering your audience demographics. The 2015 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report found that celebrity endorsements appeal far more to younger (15-34) age groups, and progressively less to older consumers. So there’s no point trying to stick Chuck Norris on your new perfume bottle aimed at over 65s. Besides, Chuck Norris doesn’t endorse products, products endorse Chuck Norris.

Don’t get confused by vanity metrics

In the world of celebrity, it’s easy to get lost in a blackhole of vanity. Sure, it’s cool to be linked with one of the Avengers, but have you really thought about how it will influence your brand? Chris Hemsworth has a whopping 22 million Instagram followers, Jeremy Renner has just 7.6 million (sorry Hawkeye, you lose again). The point is – not every celebrity has the same reach or appeal.

Let’s face it though, you’re unlikely to be considering an Avenger as the ambassador for your brand, but it highlights the need to look beyond just the idea of celebrity to the very real commercial potential that possible ambassadors might have. Are they already representing multiple brands? Do they have active social media with large followers? Do you see them working to support other brands actively? Do they have some sort of star-based thought leadership in this space? All questions to consider.

It doesn’t have to be official

You don’t always have to pay out briefcases full of cash to benefit from star appeal. The example of Meghan Markle’s coat-selling fashion prowess is just one example. That means there are ways to enjoy some of the advantages of celebrity endorsement without the hefty price tag.

If you’ve got a regular celebrity visitor to your local restaurant, ask them if you can take a picture to use on social media, or even if they’d be happy mentioning you themselves. Identify other local influencers like bloggers and invite them over for a free meal to review your food. If you’re working in fashion, identify key vloggers or bloggers and send them free items, or go the whole hog and see if you can sneakily tease a celebrity into wearing it by sending them a luxurious new coat. There are ethical and legal considerations around advertising in some of these cases, but they’re more considerations of your conduct than a barrier to success.

It’s not always good news

Don’t be mistaken, the right celebrity or high-profile endorsement can be a huge boost for your brand. But it’s not always plain sailing. By representing your brand, that individual becomes an extension of your brand image. The problem with that is – celebrities aren’t always well behaved.

There are countless cases of celebrity endorsements gone wrong.  One minute you’ve got a hot, up-and-coming sports star representing your brand, and the next minute it turns out you’ve got a felon involved in illegal dog-fighting championing your corner. Not a good look.

Want to laugh at how widespread such potential tragedy is? You can even get disgrace insurance these days, because you never know when a celebrity is going to act disgracefully!

So do I need a brand ambassador?

There’s no clear answer to this question. Like any marketing decision, it’s all about assessing the potential benefits versus the relevant costs. The tricky thing when it comes to brand ambassador endorsement is that it’s very hard to track ROI, and even if you do, there’s no telling what your influencer might decide to do next.

There’s clearly significant opportunity when it comes to influencer marketing in general, and brand ambassadors more specifically. For some brands, it’s a great choice, for others it’s a matter of avoiding the vanity urge and truly weighing up the benefits.

Ultimately, whether you decide to seek the services of a brand ambassador is down to you, but hopefully the considerations we’ve laid out above can help guide you along the way.

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