FRUKT’s Senior Talent & Rights Manager, Chris Graves reflects on the role of personality deals during a panel entitled ‘The Personal Effect’ at the Think! Sponsorship Conference in London...
With the double Olympic Medallist Mark Hunter present, the panel began with a discussion on the influx of personal sponsorship opportunities in the wake of the Olympic Games and how brands capitalised on the relationship with their brand ambassadors. This saturated branded event, as impressive as it was, resulted in some winners and losers both on the track/field and in the brand world.
Headline sponsors such as Sainsbury's had a very successful games. They made a conscious decision to sponsor the Paralympics and continue their association with British Athletics as title sponsors of the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in July 2013. By avoiding the horsemeat scandal and buying the Lloyds 50% stake in Sainsbury's Bank to take full control, it's been a great year so far for the supermarket giant.
The trend towards embedding celebrities past campaigns into the boardroom was also highlighted by the panel. Is the surge in interest in Brand Creative Directors such as Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Sebastian Vettel, merely a PR stunt or can they add genuine value? I argued the point that although there is a credibility issue to factor in, these celebrities are opening up their fan base network to a brand, therefore the title of Creative Director complements their input, especially if there is content created by these celebrities beyond just a photo shoot. Many of the artists FRUKT works with perform live, produce new material (audio and visual) and send positive messages out in the brand moment, adding significant value to campaigns.
The panel reiterated the importance of social media, how this is traded between brand and celebrity and how we at FRUKT in particular research talent profiles to align the right celebrity with the appropriate brand. Everything from history of the talent, relevance at the time of campaign (in-cycle), media stats, past negative behaviour and of course previous deals with other brands is actively taken into consideration when matching artist to brand.
Is there a limit in terms of the number of brands that one celebrity can endorse? It doesn't seem to affect David Beckham, but for others this can be a problem. It was back in 1999 that Moby released the 'Play' album in which every song was either used on a film or in a TV commercial. However, it may be acceptable for a recording artist but could this much exposure for a celebrity have a negative effect?
Is reality TV a useful tool for celebrities to build their personal brand? A celebrity has more control over a 'live' or 'as live' Dancing and Ice Skating competition but when sitting in a house or jungle you are in the hands of the production team and a crafty editor!
Any finally we touched on high profile ambassadors, footballers drinking a certain Cola that their contract forbids or a model being caught with the wrong kind of powder whilst under contract with a major brand. Richard Thompson (Chairman, M&C Saatchi Merlin) mentioned the importance for brands to have appropriate insurance cover including ‘Death & Disgrace’, which is well worth considering when assessing the risks involved in talent brand partnerships.