Authenticity is the word du jour when it comes to branding. Imagine that: Customers get mad when you say you are one thing but act like another. Shocking. While there may be some goods and services where we could give two figs about authenticity (did that kitchen gadget really do what it did on TV? Ah well, chalk it up to $19 and a lesson learned. I should really know better), customers are way more discerning these days. Trust is the watchword in this post-Enron/post-economic collapse/value for the money world we live in.
So why all the hating that companies are actually making their celebrity pitchmen (and women) get their hands dirty with the products they are endorsing? This recent WSJ article talks about how Popchips has leveraged social media-savvy stars like Ashton Kutcher and not only made them spokespeople, but have integrated them into the company, in his case as President of Pop (get it?) Culture. The comments on the article are hilarious. First of all, I’d venture to say that if this bugs you, you are not in the demographic anyway and you are not the people that Popchips cares about. Secondly, I think it’s much more authentic to make a star that hawks a product have a say in how it’s developed (albeit a high-level say) and marketed. That feels much more real to me than a plastic “I use it, shouldn’t you?” cheesy billboard from the 1950’s.
Is it silliness and marketing hype? A bit, yes. But it’s savvy business sense for these companies to stretch their dollars farther by learning from and leveraging many celebs’ wide-reaching social media fan base than simply getting them to pose for a few pics and then being done with them. That seems like a way smarter use of the investment that could pay off longer term. The people the company wants to reach are indeed influenced by a product that Ashton not only endorses but plays a part in shaping. Don’t go hating on the idea just because you might be annoyed by him. It’s actually a brilliant branding move.
Who would you hire to represent your business if you could? Please share in the Comments.