celebrity endorsement

A new kind of brand ambassadors: famous bloggers

I've written about brand celebrity endorsements in the past. In one of my articles, A new kind of brand ambassadors: famous entrepreneurs, I talked about the growing tendency among brands to form partnerships with famous people other than actors and musicians. A whole new kind of brand ambassadors is emerging. In this article, I talked about a Swiss watch brand Maurice Lacroix choosing Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales as its brand ambassador.

And here’s another interesting example. H&M, a Swedish fashion brand whose strategy revolves around frequent brand partnerships (usually, with famous designers and performers), has launched a fashion collection co-branded with a fashion blogger Elin Kling.

It seems that brands are moving away from associating themselves with famous and glamorous people towards working with those who have a lot of personality.

As we've seen in the story of Ice Watch, its founder  went a step further, hiring an unknown girl from a Dutch village as the face of the brand.  There's surely a tendency emerging in the world of marketing and branding, where companies want to connect to their customers in more genuine ways, moving away from celebrity status towards something more real, and yet convincing and glamorous.

Co-branding: Martini and D&G

Today I want to talk about an interesting example of a product launch video that I've spotted through the Facebook feed of Jean-Gabriel from FreshUp.TV. For branding addicts, its main attraction lies in the fact that it has included several impressively powerful branding techniques in one go: co-branding (or brand partnership), celebrity endorsement and even country branding.

Brand partnership

The product in question is Martini Gold by Dolce & Gabbana that has been co-branded by two iconic Italian brands. Here's an ad that accompanied the product launch:

As I've already written in my article Brand partnerships,

A brand partnership is usually a short or medium-term collaboration between two or more brands in order to enhance each other’s positioning vis-a-vis the target market.

In the case of Martini and Dolce & Gabbana, the co-operation between the two brands has been long-lasting and included such initiative as opening Martini bars within Dolce & Gabbana boutiques in Milan and Shanghai, and even a line of suits by D&G called Martini. The launch of Martini Gold is yet another step that strengthens both brands co-operation even further.

Celebrity endorsement

Italian actress Monica Belucci has starred in the Martini Gold ad acting as a brand ambassador.  In addition to that, the ad has been directed by a famous film and music video director Jonas Åkerlund who himself has a celebrity status.

Country branding

One of the main aims of this video is to evoke the origins, culture and lifestyle of Italy.  Italy is also highlighted by the La Dolce Vita style of the ad, and a mix of Italian style and fashion icons. Monica Belucci embodies Italian cinema, and both Martini and D&G represent refined Italian style. The scenes of Rome highlight the Italian cultural background of the product even further.

For many brands, especially those with a lot of heritage and strong cultural roots, associations with their home countries can enhance the overall brand image and give it a special zing.  Look at how Dolce and Gabbana stress the importance of Martini Gold being a truly Italian brand:

Madonna to launch Material Girl on August 3rd

Snapshot of Macy's site

Hello, fans of funky brands! As you've noticed, SCHMOOZY FOX has been a bit silent over the past couple of weeks. We've been taking a break from computers to enjoy the summer, give ourselves a boost of creativity, and, of course, schmooze!

We're back with awesome news from the US. Tomorrow, Madonna and her daughter Lourdes will be launching a new junior fashion brand, Material Girl.

This brand launch is simply packed with many branding concepts and marketing tools previously discussed on this blog.

First, it's an example of how a personal brand of Madonna has served as a basis for a new product brand.

Second, this a nice example of a smart celebrity endorsement by a 17-year old US teen star Taylor Momsen, whose own edgy and funky style and personality pinpoint the values of Material Girl.

Third, there's an important element for any brand launch -- distribution channel, in this case Macy's -- that has been selected to strengthen Material Girl's positioning as affordable and democratic clothes.

Material Girl has a lot of potential to become a funky brand. We'll be curious to watch its progress after its official launch tomorrow.

A new kind of brand ambassadors: famous entrepreneurs

Jimmy Wales WikipediaHere is a photo of a magazine back page that I took this morning. It made me think of a new trend that is emerging in the area of celebrity endorsements: business celebrities as brand ambassadors. Even if you are not familiar with the term, you've most probably come across brand celebrity endorsements on many occasions.  These are short or long-term partnerships between a brand and a real person, usually a celebrity from the world of music, sports or movies. If you've seen ads with Hollywood stars next to cars, perfume or other products, then you've seen a celebrity endorsement in action.

In such brand partnerships, celebrities serve as the so called meta-brands: overarching, superior concepts that add  positive associations to other brands wanting to relate to them. For celebrities, it's also important to choose the right brands to work with, because at the end of the day, they have to pinpoint these people's personal brands.

My observation that I want to share with you today is this: most brands, especially luxury products, like to work with celebrities from the world of entertainment and sports.

However, it seems like there's a whole new trend emerging out there: celebrities from the non-entertainment world. They are not as widely known as entertainment stars, but they nevertheless have a lot of qualities that brands can tap into and benefit from. This trend is not yet very well explored by brands, it seems.

A concrete example that I want to share with you today is the recent brand campaign by a Swiss watch brand Maurice Lacroix. In particular, its brand partnership with Jimmy Wales, an American Internet entrepreneur and co -founder of Wikipedia.

The two other brand ambassadors that Maurice Lacroix chose -- Bob Geldoff and Justin Rose -- come from the worlds of music and sports, respectively. But Jimmy Wales is a businessman whose name is known to a lesser extent.

What's known much better is his non-profit foundation: Wikipedia.

What did Maurice Lacroix want to communicate by selecting Bob Geldoff, Justin Rose and Jimmy Wales as its brand ambassadors? I guess, the most important qualities that seems to unite them all are continuity, staying on course, and staying true to themselves. And of course, achieving results.

As brands look for authenticity and natural, not-too-commercial, ways of connecting with their consumers, we're likely to see more entrepreneurs, journalists, and other people outside of the entertainment world with strong personal brands, endorse products and services.

Can laptops and nail polish complement each other?

Dell&OPIBrandPartnership2 Today SCHMOOZY FOX is going to talk about brand partnerships.

This is an important topic that should be on the radar screen of young and promising funky brands. If your company is not a completely new start-up, and you have already achieved a good degree of brand awareness of your product or service in your main markets, then consider partnering up with another brand.

Why?

Well, provided you choose your brand partner smartly, this can enhance your own brand positioning, and add some nice new aspects, flavors, emotions and associations to your brand.

Some earlier examples of brand partnerships mentioned on SCHMOOZY FOX, have been the collaboration between Naked Wines & Jamie Oliver, Nike & Dizzee Rascal, as well as a celebrity endorsement of Baileys by Kim Cattrall.

Another example that's worth mentioning is the recent partnership between Dell and a nail polish producer OPI.  At first, this might sound like a strange idea: the product categories are totally different, how can they complement each other?

But Dell went for it, introducing 26 nail polish themed colors to choose from in the Dell-Design studio, a site which allows customization of laptops.

It actually seems quite logical to me why Dell went for this partnership. The main advantage is that Dell now has 26 nice and shiny ways of selling laptops to style and fashion conscious female customers. I would choose these two shades of orange that would  look very funky for SCHMOOZY FOX, what do you think?

Dell&OPIBrandParnership1

Dell&OPIBrandPartnership

The advantages of this partnership seem more obvious for Dell than OPI.

OPI also got something out of this deal, of course: getting your name mentioned on Dell's site must be a fantastic boost to the nail polish producer's brand. It looks like OPI is targeting those female business professionals who want to stay stylish at work – matching your laptop with nail polish probably seems like a cool thing to do.

But will the ladies who have just bought one of those orange Dell Inspiron laptops run to the shop to get a matching shade of OPI, or can they choose another brand's nail polish in the same color? In other words, it's not totally clear whether this partnership will boost the OPI sales in the short term. However, the possibility of long-term positive effect on future sales from raised brand awareness is strong.

So, get those brand partnerships on your radar screen, and have fun giving manicures to laptops. As long as it brings you more happy customers.

If you want to know whether a brand partnership is a good idea for your company, ask olga (at) schmoozyfox (dot) com.

Baileys Irish Cream: enjoy life!

Celebrity endorsement: Kim Cattrall for Baileys As part of the Funky Brand Interviews series, I am happy to talk to James Payne, Global Communications Manager at Baileys Irish Cream. Baileys is one of the best-selling liqueur brands globally and originated in 1974 in Ireland.  R&A Bailey & Co. who created Baileys became part of Grand Metropolitan, which merged with Guinness to form Diageo in 1997.

Today SCHMOOZY FOX talks with James about the recent celebrity endorsement of the Baileys festive bottle by actress Kim Cattrall, as well as the activities undertaken by the Baileys team in order to connect to fans of this drink through online channels.

SCHMOOZY FOX: James, the Baileys Facebook fan page has almost 800 000 fans. That's a massive number! When did you launch your Facebook page and how much time did it take you to reach this number?

James Payne: Anne Katherine Elmsgard, a fan in Denmark, launched the page early in 2008.  We got in touch with her later that year and asked if we could help her to manage the page and do more with it.  She was actually really keen for us to get involved because, while she really loves Baileys, she didn’t have much time to actively manage the page.  The fan growth has been completely organic – most of the growth took place between October-December last year.  The page went from less than 200,000 to over 600,000 fans in three months.  While we have fans on the page from all over the world, Latin countries seem to have really embraced the fan page.  Italy is the country with most fans – almost 220,000.  In terms of languages, Spanish speakers are the biggest group, followed by English and Italian speakers.

SCHMOOZY FOX: What's the profile of somebody who likes Baileys? What would be some of the most common characteristics, not only in terms of age, gender and place of residence, but also in terms of the emotional motivations that trigger your customers' interest in this brand? James Payne: Baileys has an incredibly broad consumer base – its delicious taste appeals to so many people!  This makes it harder to describe a typical profile in demographic terms.  I think it’s more useful to consider the kinds of characteristics that Baileys drinkers have in common.  People who drink Baileys frequently tend to be people who enjoy life to the full and savor all the pleasures that life sends their way.

Baileys is very much a ‘feel’ brand not a ‘think’ brand – it’s not about how many years it’s been in a barrel or how it makes you look to people who don’t know you.  It’s definitely more about the amazing sensation of it melting on your tongue, warming your mouth and tantalizing your taste buds; it’s about the warm feeling you share with good friends when you can have your guard down and be yourself completely - moments when, because you know each other so well, a look or gesture can communicate a thousand words or have everyone laughing out loud.

SCHMOOZY FOX: And do you think that Facebook can help you get in touch with such people?

Baileys festive bottle

James Payne: Facebook has become so ubiquitous in so many countries that there is clearly an overlap between Facebook users and people who love Baileys – the organic growth of the fan page is a really good demonstration of this.  The challenge when you’re dealing with a ‘feel’ brand like Baileys is that it can be difficult to properly bring the brand to life via short status updates or wall-posts.  We’re still learning what our fans want.  We’ve asked them and in many cases they want to hear about things like new ways to try Baileys so we regularly share recipe cards on the page.  We’re keen that the fans communicate with each other too so we regularly add new discussion topics and polls to the page.  We try to offer them special and exclusive content too – for example, this week we’re posting an exclusive behind-the-scenes video of a recent celebrity photo-shoot that our fans will get to see first.

SCHMOOZY FOX: Why are most of the status updates on your Facebook page both in English and Spanish?

James Payne: There are slightly more Spanish-speaking fans than native English speakers on the fan page, but we believe that English is likely to be the most widely understood language so we lead with English and follow up with a Spanish translation.  Ideally we would have an Italian translation too, but three translations would start to look a bit clunky.  A new functionality allowing geo-targeted status updates launched on Facebook last week so we are investigating how best to use this to communicate with our global fan base most effectively.

SCHMOOZY FOX: You've just featured some great behind the scene photos from your photo shoot with Kim Cattrall, who played Samantha in Sex And The City. In the photos, she's wearing a dress designed by Patricia Field to launch the Baileys Festive Bottle which comes with a red bow. Is it the first time Baileys is doing a celebrity endorsement? Could you tells us a bit more about Baileys' partnership with Kim Cattrall? Why was she chosen?

Images courtesy of Baileys

James Payne: I’m sure it can’t be the first celebrity endorsement in the brand’s history, but it is certainly the first recent partnership with a celebrity.  In many countries we have sponsored high-profile TV shows like Sex And The City, Friends and Desperate Housewives when they were at the peak of their popularity so there is that link between Baileys and shows with celebrity-filled casts.  In this case we wanted someone to launch our Baileys festive bottle who embodied the qualities of the brand.  I’ve already mentioned that Baileys drinkers tend to enjoy life to the full and savor all the pleasures that life sends their way.  I think people can see that in Kim and the characters that she plays.  She also genuinely loves Baileys – I think that’s pretty clear from the behind-the-scenes video!

SCHMOOZY FOX: What other activities are you planning to undertake in 2010 in order to build online brand presence for Baileys?

James Payne: Our key focus for Baileys in the digital space is to find ways to build a closer relationship between the brand and our consumers.  We want to find ways to recognize and reward our drinkers.  Facebook allows us to do this in a limited way, but we can do this in a much richer way if our consumers sign-up for The Baileys Lounge on Baileys.com.  This is our exclusive members experience, with new recipes from top chefs and mixologists, life and style content (from party tips to expert interviews) and exclusive offers and competitions to give something back to our consumers.  It’s a really good way for people who love Baileys to get regular treats and surprises through the e-mail updates.

SCHMOOZY FOX: many thanks for this interview, and I wish a very sweet 2010 to yourself and the Baileys brand!

Zumba fitness

Zumba Image source: http://www.zumba.com

I've recently caught a glimpse of Zumba on TV, and the funky Latin workout caught my attention. And not only because I myself like to move to the steamy Latin tunes. I've heard about Zumba from some friends here and there, so I was curious to dig a bit more into the concept, and analyze the brand.

So, what's Zumba really?  Is it something you do to get fit, lose weight, or just have fun? To get a better idea what it looks like, have a look at this video I found on YouTube:

It's a bit of a mix of various Latin dance styles – there's some salsa, merengue, samba and something else I can't quite determine. It also looks like fun. But is Zumba just a kind of fitness program you can follow at your local gym, or is it also a profitable business? Importantly, does its business model support the brand and its values? Here are some branding clues SCHMOOZY FOX is happy to share with you.

What exactly is the product?

The core “product” of Zumba is its fitness workout. It is actually a “service” rather than something tangible you buy at a shop. You go to your local gym, move around, dance and sweat for an hour to funky Latin tunes. What you get as a customer is an experience, fun and positive emotions. Most probably, you'll burn some calories along the way. In terms of tangible products, there is some Zumba-branded merchandise available on the site, such as DVDs, music, umbrellas, T-shirts etc. Not too exciting, but not too bad either.

What's the business model?

Well, that's a good question. I did some googling around to find out more, but all I can do is simply assume that Zumba sells licences to designated fitness instructors around the world. Or maybe, cash flows come simply from the fees instructors pay to Zumba for the obligatory qualification courses. Whatever the current business model, SCHMOOZY FOX could come up with at least several more ways of how to create and capture more value for Zumba!

As far as instructor training, it's not clear from the site if an instructor has to follow all of the offered 8 levels or only one. For instance, in Belgium, there are several basic level workshops available for the price of 325$ per two days, and no previous Zumba experience is needed. I wonder if you actually have to be a dance or fitness teacher to start with, or can I also take that 2-day course and start teaching Zumba next week? I suggest that Zumba.com sheds some more light on this point, in order to make things more clear for potential instructors.

Who are Zumba's customers?

There are two main kinds of customers in this case: those who will take classes, and those who'll teach them. As regards course participants, I wouldn't be dwelling only on such criteria commonly used in marketing as age and gender, and where they live. SCHMOOZY FOX would also focus on the deep emotions that trigger potential customers' decision to sign up for a Zum'ba course. Is it a desire to lose some weight? Become more sexy? Meet a potential date? Have fun? Build self-confidence? These are some of the questions Zumba should keep in mind to get a better idea about its customers. For now, its targeting seems a bit more fuzzy rather than funky.

In order to reach instructors, Zumba should be doing a different kind of analysis. After all, instructors' reasons for teaching Zumba are totally different. Here, emotions play a certain role, but incentives and rewards are equally important. Zumba should build a community around the instructors, and preferably give them access to some perks: use your imagination here, there are plenty of great opportunities available!

Importantly, customer touch points (I explained what they are in my article about Abercrombie and Fitch) should be thought through in relation to both groups of customers. The funky web site alone (actually, it's only the home pages that looks good, whereas national sites are pretty weak) will not do the job of maintaining the brand, and the biggest challenge for Zumba is to ensure that the quality of courses, instructors and spaces where courses are held, is consistent.

Orchestrating so many elements around the world (Zumba courses are offered on a global level) certainly requires a lot of dedication and consistency, but if this huge effort pays off, a true funky brand is born! Consistency of services is by the way one of the biggest challenges for any service brands, and only few get it right, on very rare occasions!

How is Zumba being promoted?

The most obvious channels that drive the buzz around the Zumba brand are its  web site, and coverage in the world's leading health, beauty and fitness magazines. I would imagine that a lot of the marketing is also word-of-mouth driven.  In addition to these channels, Zumba has partnered with The Kellogg Company to participate in a joint health and fitness initiative targeted to the US Hispanic market at some point, but this was an initiative undertaken only in the US. The name of this initiative was Zumbando con Kellogg's.

Something that Zumba could consider to build a brand would be celebrity endorsement by a Latin star – a dancer, fitness instructor, actress – plenty of opportunities here. Remember how strongly aerobics is associated with Jane Fonda? That's definitely something to consider in the Zumba case.

Apart from that, just like any respectable service brand (I am being a bit sarcastic here, as there aren't that many of those around!), Zumba should keep in mind that “point of sale promotions” (the actual fitness rooms where classes take place) as well as  instructors themselves shouldlive the brand, breathe the brand, and promote it. Just look at a very large selection of amateur Zumba videos on YouTube: each of them has a totally different look and feel with the only common factor being Latin music! More consistency is required!

From would-be-funky to truly funky

Building brands for services companies is surely one of the most challenging activities to engage in, as this requires so many elements to be in harmony at all times.  But if you manage to get it right, you can reach unbelievably good results. If Zumba wants to move from being would-be-funky to a truly funky brand, there are so many things it should still work on! In addition to the suggestions above, it should also know its competitors, position itself very differently from them, and get those brand core values sorted out in a more of a … Zumba way.

To learn about further developments of the brand, please read Zumba sells branded merchandise.

NIKE partners with rapper Dizzee Rascal

This post is about NIKE's collaboration with rapper Dizzee Rascal to support the launch of the limited edition shoe Air Max 90 Tongue N Cheek, based on the new album release by the musician.