Celebrity And Brand Partnerships: Making The Right Match


President, cofounder of AMIBA Consulting.

In the world of celebrity marketing, there are a lot of promotional ads that have a tendency to feel forced and can fall flat with an audience. Why is that? Many believe in a product based on how authentic the promotion feels. Is the ad relatable, or does it seem extremely scripted? The big question here is, how can a brand avoid this?

Bringing on a celebrity partner has to be a thoughtful process with certain criteria to meet. Just being a celebrity is not enough to bring success to a brand. The partnership has to fit well and make sense to the audience. A poorly thought-out partnership can certainly fall flat. Consider, for example, if an athlete is partnering with a fast-food company. Athletes are often known to be hyper-focused on their diet and well-being, so the general public likely would not believe a professional would spend a majority of their time eating burgers, fries or drinking soda.

So, what are the key things that make a pairing cohesive? My company helps foster partnerships between brands and celebrities, and here are a few things I suggest keeping in mind:

1. A Similar Audience

One of the best ways to make your brand thrive is to partner with a celebrity whose audience will inherently be drawn to whatever they’re selling. A great example here is Cîroc and Sean “Diddy” Combs. Combs makes hip-hop dance music popular in clubs everywhere. Cîroc is a vodka brand, marketing itself heavily in nightclubs as a go-to liquor. From my perspective, this partnership is successful because of its followers’ shared interests.

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In order to ensure a brand and a celebrity’s audiences align, it’s important to think about a few things. The clearest question is age. If the age of the celebrity falls into the same range as a brand’s target audience, the partnership might make sense. The second factor to consider is an audience’s interest or hobbies. If the celebrity’s interests align with the brand’s services, again, they might make sense for the brand to work with. Since launching her cookbooks, Chrissy Teigen, for example, attracts an audience who is looking for delicious, fun food content, which might make her a good match for a cooking brand.

2. Shared Passion And Mission

Second, and an extremely important factor in brand success, is ensuring both parties are passionate about the brand succeeding. This is one of the biggest differentiating factors between partnering with a celebrity long-term and simply hiring them for an advertising campaign.

When you partner with someone, you both have a stake in the game. Finding a celebrity collaborator who is emotionally invested in the success of your company ensures they will go above and beyond in their promotional efforts for the brand. For example, my company helped facilitate a partnership between Olivia Culpo and Vide, a canned spirits company focused on ingredient cleanliness and transparency. Culpo joined the executive team as creative director. She told Fortune the brand is “very aligned with my own personal ethics,” and she works closely with the team on marketing efforts, strategizing flavors, etc.

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Having a passion for the company that runs so deep that the celebrity wants to be actively involved in the day-to-day business should be the mentality of most partnerships.

Another qualification is to find someone with a shared mission. Maybe you don’t have the same audience, per se, but if your mission is the same, you might actually tap into both the brand’s audience and the celebrity’s audience while bringing light to your shared goal. A mission-based partnership my company also helped facilitate is Kerry Washington, who is known for being an advocate for supporting marginalized groups, and Byte, a virtual dental health platform focused on accessibility and affordability. This partnership came to fruition after a year of discussions and planning to ensure they were the right fit for each other and that their missions align.

3. Authenticity

Lastly, when you have both a shared audience and a shared mission, authenticity typically already exists. However, there are cases in which a celebrity partnership is just not believable. For instance, simply because Justin Bieber might have a large female fanbase doesn’t necessarily mean he’d be a good fit for promoting a brand’s beauty products. Bieber’s wife, Hailey Bieber, however, might be a better match. In fact, she recently launched her own beauty brand after becoming a go-to in the beauty space on social media over the past few years.

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Simply having an audience crossover doesn’t necessarily make an authentic match for a brand. Authenticity is tricky because the more you work for it, the less it works for you. The key here is to put the celebrity in their everyday life. If said person would not ever come across your product, then it is not a good match. If the celebrity is already interested in, or could seamlessly integrate your product into their lives, you’re likely to achieve an authentic marketing strategy. For example, musician and fashion designer Pharrell Williams partnered with Adidas. This collaboration is ingenious because Pharrell was already sporting Adidas long before the partnership.

The Takeaway

Considering all of these things, a good partnership between a brand and a celebrity can be beneficial, and there are a number of brands out there that can explore this option. The key is to find the right partner. In doing so, brands can expand their reach and have an instant association with the celebrity they choose to work with. Be sure to really invest some thought into these types of collaborations and evaluate how a partnership will be perceived by the public.


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