8 Strategies for Powering Up Your Endorser

When Sergio Garcia thanked Taylor Made for his Players’ Championship win; he exemplified the ultimate power of a professional endorser.

And now as celebrities are fortifying brand messages and appeal in all media from TV to online to displays and trade shows, it’s important to assure they are working powerfully for you. Sergio was a great success story but other endorsers are confusing.

To power up a spokesperson as a genuine brand asset, I recommend these strategies, based on my experience with many celebrities including Hank Aaron, Michael Jordan, Cindy Crawford, Payne Stewart and Zach Johnson.

Relevance – sounds obvious, but don’t just find the easiest (cheapest) celebrity to represent you. You wouldn’t assign a marginal salesman your top account, right? Your celebrity has to be relevant to the message in style and substance (and a likely customer). Tag Heurer does it superbly with Jeff Gordon and Maria Sharapova. And their ads offer the bonus of being aspirational.

Recognizable – your endorser must be instantly recognizable, especially when mega celebrities dominate. Even if he or she isn’t A-list, his triumphant story, especially the classic “American dream” one can be transcendental. Witness Johnson’s heroic 2007 Masters’ stand versus Tiger Woods and its boost for Dunning Golf and SeeMore Putters.

Likeable – customers have to like you before they buy from you, so your spokesperson must be “loved” by your target. Think Arnold Palmer or David Feherty. The King’s face on “his” drink (ice tea and lemonade) reportedly sold millions of dollars for its first Arizona

Trustworthy – avoid endorsers that can’t be trusted to communicate your message or connect with the product, its use and your target. Despite her legal issues, Martha Stewart is the Master. She even awes Usher when she tells him that in a Macy’s commercial that she has designed thousands of products.

Dimensional – expand your spokesperson-brand connection through trade shows, sales meeting appearances, customer presentations, internet interaction, etc. Bridgestone does this effectively with Fred Couples in TV ads and in-store life-size Freddie cutouts. Make spokespersons available for media interviews about your brand and always to media train them to deliver messages effectively and credibly. Taylor Made did this well with Sergio.

Storytelling – connect your customer and spokesperson by telling a story that captures their heart and mind. The Dwyane Wade Lincoln Navigator commercial where he takes the basketballs and basket to an inner city team is so powerful. He and Charles Barkley tell a funny and engaging story in the TMobile Fab Five ads.

Tasteful – be compassionate and sympathetic to all situations and constituencies. The Allstate National Catastrophe Team is tasteful. What’s not is the Lincoln SUV ad featuring Harry Connick touring ravaged New Orleans post Katrina. While he eventually arrives at new home sites, this ad capitalizes on a tragedy that should not be trivialized commercially.

Due diligence – in finance, they call it, trust and verify. Do this in a discovery process as you thoroughly research a spokesperson to assure there are no skeletons in his closet. Prepare a comprehensive, all inclusive “out” clause for any controversial incidents. Also develop a crisis communication plan for addressing any such controversies. Michael Vick painfully reminds us of a depreciated, troubled spokesperson.

These strategies will yield returns for your celebrity spokesperson investment. Good luck and let’s enterprise soon about your next strategic communications opportunities and challenges.