Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to make sure the product isn't the star.

          In a lot of my classes, some students want celebrities in every ad or commercial they create. Women's apparel? Celebrities. Canned soup? Celebrities. Cotton swabs? Celebrities.

          The problem? A celebrity is a substitute for an idea. You don't even have to think very much. "Camera opens on George Clooney getting out of swimming pool." What else do you need?

          The wrong celebrity can even detract from your product.

          I eventually tell my students that they cannot use famous people in their work unless the famous people are dead. Want to do a commercial  showing George Washington looking better crossing the Delaware in a Hugo Boss overcoat? Be my guest. But do something more inventive than Justin Bieber walking in a field.

          So if Justin Bieber isn't an idea (don't tell Selina Gomez), what is?

          It's an idea that Visa understands some things in life are priceless.

          It's an idea that Hallmark puts your feelings into just the right words.

          And that we should forget our excuses and just do it.

          And that one airline flies the friendly skies.

         And that some foods just aren't the same without milk.

         And that, as Gatorade says, there's a difference between mouth thirst and body thirst.

         Anyone with the bucks can hire a star. And what if instead of George Clooney you hire a star who behaves badly? What does that do to your brand?

         I've done ads and commercials with Brooke Shields, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Carson,Tom Selleck, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jerry Lewis, and a lot of other celebrities, for a lot of products. They were fun to do and look at. But I only used celebrities when they fit in with the client's marketing strategy.

       Start with the strategy, come up with an idea, and then, if you must, find a celebrity to support it by adding interest and credibility.

       And then if you have the budget, the camera can open on George Clooney getting out of the swimming pool.


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