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Celebrity Advertising - Matching Talent to Brands

Simon Orpin, Managing Director of Operations,
By Simon Orpin  //  Thu 24th November 2011

Celebrity endorsement of brands has been on the rise for some time. Research suggests that the number of personality led advertising campaigns has doubled over the last decade. Such associations with celebrity has been found to help create instant brand awareness and recall, positively affirm brand values and image, create differentiation and help a brand stand out as well as imparting authentic, aspirational and motivational aspects to a brand's positioning.

Essentially, the personality of the brand ambassador can extend the personality of the product or service and help generate true brand fame. It has been shown that such associations increase consumer conversations around celebrity advertising and the development of true brand fans who happily affirm the advertised proposition more widely than ever in today's social media driven society. It also provides a wider level of client ownership to a proposition that is much harder to replicate amongst their competitive set.

The commissioning of TV programming is more often than not influenced by who is cast to present or star in the show in the quest to develop popularity and greater audiences. Consequently it is easy to see that the same can be true when looking to create popularity and familiarity around brands. This is not only the case with established advertisers but increasingly with new or challenger brands. It also true for domestic campaigns through to global advertising, appealing to different groups of audiences in individual ways.

An important aspect of generating celebrity advertising engagement and interest within brands, is providing detailed information as to how it works. provides many live opportunities for brands and marketers, but also has insight into past campaigns – it recently featured a case study from Waitrose, which discusses an integrated campaign to place the supermarket as an everyday shopping destination rather than one reserved for “special occasions”, which they undertook (and to great success) with celebrity chefs Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal.

So, if there is such a benefit to the association of established fame, fans of celebrity (often) on-screen talent and positive brand identity, why doesn't it happen even more?

There have been certain, well publicised instances of brand ambassadors creating infamy around their own image which advertisers have subsequently withdrawn from, but these are in the rarity as most stars work hard to protect the sanctity of their reputations and is not the reason that we don't see even more talent led work.
More often than not it has been that the process of forging such advertising relationships has been fraught with obstacles. Too many disparate parties involved, too many promises made without the jurisdiction to do so and too many i's to dot and t's to cross. It's often hard to know where to start and the potential pit falls to avoid.

As with all things, the simpler and more direct a process can become and the more that unnecessary obstacles can be removed, the greater the chances of delivering a successful outcome. After all, the 100 metre sprint is an easier race to complete than the 3000 metre steeplechase.

The ownership of the key relationships is vital here with said ownership of the relationship with the talent being tantamount and this lies with the guardians of the talents' images and careers, their agents. Additionally, advertisers, agencies and production companies have not generally had the type of direct relationships with the agents and talent to simplify the process and easily create meaningful, long term partnerships. The fact that celebrity advertising is increasingly occurring is testament to its effectiveness and often the determination and effort of the many parties involved.

Having said that, things are changing. At the John Noel management agency, an in house production company was formed to create TV programme formats to display the wide range of talent that are represented by John and the team (as can be seen at The production company, Running Bare Pictures, run by Phil Edgar-Jones (previously the man behind Big Brother at Endemol) has had a spectacularly successful time in 2011, winning a number of significant commissions at major broadcasters. At the same time, they have also begun to engage directly with agencies and clients about the creation and/or production of talent led advertising content, under the 'Matching Talent to Brands' initiative. This focuses on the development of all forms of commercial film from broadcast ads, sponsorship credentials, short form digital film and advertiser funded shows.

So with stellar names in the worlds of TV presenting, entertainment, comedy and specialist presenters, coupled with great talent in production, original script writing, and new ways to engage the clients, this initiative presents an interesting new way of enabling truly valuable personality led ideas come to life and of building meaningful partnerships with agencies and brands.

Click here to view Simon Orpin's feature on Cost-effective TV ad production
Running Bare Pictures, Simon Orpin
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