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Is Hiring A Celebrity As Your Creative Director Worth It?

by Michael Lynch, Rocket XL / February 26, 2013

Note: This blog entry is available in English only.

A couple of weeks ago, Ad Age posted an article discussing the trend of “hiring” a celebrity as part of your creative team (article here).  For example, as opposed to signing Marc Jacobs on as a spokesperson, Diet Coke has upped the ante by hiring him as a Creative Director.  The article offers good points for and against this approach, but I want to discuss why I feel these are unnecessary partnerships:

  • A creative celebrity does not equate to successful brand ideas

While I applaud a celebrity’s attempt to expand their creative horizons into the brand world, the results of these endeavors are not sure-things.  For example, Polaroid hired Lady Gaga as a Creative Director for the brand in January 2011 with a plan for a new line of cameras heavily influenced by Gaga herself.  The result?  A forgettable mobile printer and these still-unreleased camera glasses.  It’s difficult to tell exactly how much of the development process Gaga herself was actually a part of, but it nevertheless did not immediately translate into sales or a turnaround for the struggling brand.  Which brings me to my next point…

  • Do people really care if the celebrity is part of your “team”?

Watch the Justin Timberlake commercial.

Not a bad commercial, right?  I wouldn’t say it is leading a renaissance for advertising, but it certainly gets the job done.  Now what if I told you that this commercial was the first one in which Justin Timberlake was directly involved in the creative process?  Would that change your perception of the commercial or increase your purchase intent for Bud Light Platinum?  Is your reaction different because JT is the new “Creative and Musical Curator” for the brand instead of just a spokesperson?  It didn’t for me.  Furthermore, with just over 59k views on YouTube, the commercial falls short in Digital Awareness against the other commercial on their YouTube page, which has amassed over 1MM total views:

Timberlake video views:

Non-Timberlake video views:

In short, I don’t believe that the average consumer really cares whether or not Justin Timberlake is intimately involved in the creative process.  And while I applaud Bud Light Platinum (or any of these brands) for creating a more authentic bond with its spokesperson, I don’t feel that this will translate to any higher of a sales increase than a standard celebrity sponsorship would provide.

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