When brands throw parties, trade show or brand launch events, one of the best ways to grab media attention is to have celebrities attend but safeguards are needed. Things go awry and the fact is most high caliber celebrities don’t attend for free, no matter how awesome the brand is, which is extremely costly to the brand.
And even when the brand does secure the celebrity with cash, many brand managers sabotage the process by not being prepared with enough knowledge up front to truly get expectations met at the end of the day.
Brands bring in celebrities to events because:
- Celebrities get media to attend and cover the event.
- Celebrities provide photo opportunities that will later make the event appear even more exciting – especially the sizzle reel.
- Celebrities can impact their fan bases through social media and raise awareness of the event.
- Celebrities are PR friendly, providing content for public relations story development.
- Celebrities excite other event attendees, whether they are distributors, C-level executives or the public.
- Celebrities get more (unpaid) celebrities to attend.
Before initial contact is made with a celebrity, the brand manager needs to figure out the overall plan, as without one securing celebrities can become quite costly, take up a lot of wasted time, and ruin executive’s expectations.
A case in point: Celebrities won’t ‘add-on’ aspects to their event attendance after the offer is made without significantly raising their fee.
Before reach out begins, brand managers should ensure they have put together a plan.
- Finalize Event Materials
The celebrity will want to know about the event, and the best way to do this is to share the event marketing materials that will be used, including the invitation, and supplement with a brand overview sheet on what the brand is trying to accomplish and the reason why. Try making this reason not about selling product as that is already a given. This is the opportunity to have the celebrity understand and share the higher vision and be motivated by it to attend.
- Who To Contact
Determine what celebrity type is the right one for the event. Is it true A-list star power needed, or will B-List or even C-List stars get the attention needed. Is a musician, athlete, actor or personality a better fit? Is a specific age range more on target? Is the objective to have a celebrity with an obvious brand fit or just general pop culture that drives media’s flashbulbs? Think about what the brand needs instead of personal celebrity favorites people want to meet. No matter the answer, get the entire brand management team on board before outreach begins.
Also be realistic. Celebrities that are working currently may not be available due to film shoots or music tours. If the celebrity has their hand in too many things – including supporting numerous brand events – then they may not have time or energy. There are also celebrities who do all they can to do to avoid the media spotlight, choosing to sparingly support events and typically only their own personal causes.
Celebrities with something to promote may be more press-hungry and eager to attend the event than their counterparts. Research what feature films, TV shows or album launches are on the horizon.
- Who Is Doing The Contact
Do not make the mistake of thinking more agencies doing outreach is better. This is the number one way brands fail in celebrity reach out. Do not sign with more than one agency to do reach out at the same time. If there is concern and lack of confidence in the agency doing reach out, provide a reasonable time limit for them to work, with a cancellation clause if no talent is secured by an early enough date to change direction.
If more than one agency approaches talent or their management with an offer, the brand actually will drive the price tag of the talent up, as competition in the marketplace is created. Typically the agencies are offering different rates as well during negotiations, or even different add on services – product trade, car service, hair and makeup – and once the management hears about what could be offered, they will want to have it all.
If more than one agency is hired to do secure talent, provide talent type differentiation for them to approach, such as by celebrity type: Music, Sports, Actors, Personalities.
Brands truly lose in any scenario where more than one agency is hired to approach and secure similar or the same talent.
- Set The Fee Offer
Celebrity outreach is not a fixed price initiative. Talent managers don’t provide a magic number listed on a celebrity sheet referencing how much a celebrity is. Instead it is a dance, with the talent management trying to get the best offer, and the brand trying to stay in budget and not give away the farm. Know the realistic budgets that have been allocated to this event initiative for celebrities. This will streamline and guide what realistic talent can be sourced.
Most talent management firms don’t want to present anything lower than a $50,000 deal for an A-Lister and some of those figures will go up to the six figures – and for a brand throwing an event – that budget can be overwhelming. There are celebrities that can be secured for a fifth of that price tag – but the talent type may reflect that.
Set standard rates for talent ranges to keep within. If the type of caliber of talent is above the budgeted rate, take a hard look to see if the offer should be increased. All the hard dollar items – car, hair and makeup, product trade, airfare and hotel, should be kept in mind to see what items should be leveraged to try to lower rates.
- Make The Offer
When the plan is in place, and the brand management team has agreed upon a general budget as well as type of celebrity to approach, it is time to create an Offer Letter outlining the deal points. The letter states what the talent is required to do (social media, red carpet, meet-and-greets, product photos, interviews, etc.) as well as what time they are committed to arrive and stay until. Do not think the celebrity will have such an awesome time at the event that they want to stay until the end. Typically they leave the minute their time requirement ends.
Set a DEADLINE on the offer letter. Let the celebrity know that if a response is not provided within a pre-set reasonable amount of time that the deal expires. Celebrity managers take these offer letters very seriously, and the brand needs to safeguard their reputation by not randomly tossing offers everywhere to see what will stick. A strategic plan is needed, with celebrity offer letters made based on what the actual available budget is, and not exceeding it. If all the offers are approved, the brand manager is going to be in a rough spot looking for more dollars to uphold these obligations.
- Paper Trail
Expect to have one or more counter offers that the brand can choose to accept or deny – the talent manager is looking to make the most money for their celebrity – and this is a dialogue. Hold off on some of that product trade out to ‘sweeten the pot’ if necessary. Once the offer is accepted by the talent, be sure to create a contract outlining the specifics of what has been agreed to. This will include when payments will be made (they will request upfront, brands can negotiate for 50% upfront, 50% day of/day later after the event), every detail the celebrity is expected to execute (social, product pictures, red carpet, meet-and-greets, etc.) The contract should also include what happens if calamity arises and the celebrity has to cancel, and how money will be refunded. It does happen, and frequently. Having more than one celebrity in place will help safeguard the event.
- How To Contact
Celebrities can be secured through their talent management or publicists. These contacts can be found through www.imdbpro.com, www.contactanycelebrity.com or www.whorepresents.com. Expect to pay higher price tags if the brand reaches out directly instead of having a seasoned professional assist.
The easiest way to make celebrity events happen is to work with an entertainment marketing agency that has established contacts with talent directly, as well as their personal contacts, management, PR and talent agencies, and who are aware of what celebrities rates range from and who lives up to contractual expectations. The closer the circle to the celebrity, the more reasonable the price tag typically is.
Working with a company that has experience in this space will help you get the results you want while saving you a lot of time and energy – as well as dollars.