Britney Spears and Pepsi. Michael Jordan and Nike. Ellen DeGeneres and Cover Girl. David Beckham and Adidas.

When the right celebrity is used to promote a product or brand, the results can not only be financially rewarding but memorable. For decades companies have been engaging celebrities, or more recently influencers, to build brand awareness and credibility amongst a desired audience. In a study released by HBS, findings suggest that brands who deal with high-profile celebrities, like the examples above, generate on average $10 million in additional sales annually and nearly a 0.25% increase in stock returns. In addition, if a chosen celebrity continues to make notable achievements over time (e.g. winning an award, receiving good publicity etc.), the brand will also directly benefit overtime in their sales and stock returns.


According to WallBlog, in 2015 15% of all advertisements featured high-profile celebrities. While there are many risks when tying a brand name to a celebrity (and vice versa), this method of promotion still remains a powerful way for brands to engage with consumers, stay relevant, and generate buzz in 2016. In the past year, numerous big deals were announced including Selena Gomez and hair-care line Pantene, Oprah Winfrey and Weight Watchers, and Taylor Swift and Keds shoes.

Finding the right match

While there has been conflicting reports on the direct ROI garnered from celebrity endorsements, given the premium brands are willing to pay, it is becoming increasingly more important to ensure the right match is made. We all remember some big endorsement deals gone wrong, right? When looking to find a prospect for an endorsement deal, brands may begin a lengthy process of looking for celebrity characteristics such as their athletic ability, number of awards, physical appearance, trendiness, lifestyle choices etc. Keeping these factors in mind, a brand also needs to secure a trustworthy and credible candidate.

Today, consumers have access to celebrities more than ever before. As the face of Pantene, Selena Gomez is accessible to millions of fans across numerous social channels – any questionable Instagram picture, tweet, or snapchat could be detrimental for a brand associated with the starlet. Gone are the days of celebrities simply appearing on the front of a Wheaties Box and reaping the reward. The celebrities chosen are brand ambassadors who are constantly watched and are expected by consumers to be a brand champion. Let’s just say you won’t spot Selena using another hair-care brand any time soon.

Getting ready for Fallon 😊 @pantene @ara_vartanian jewels

A photo posted by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

Eliminating the guesswork

But how do brands pick the right candidate? Today, consumer insights such as interests and passions are changing how brands develop their marketing strategies. When it comes to identifying the right celebrity or influencer that will resonate with your desired audience, technologies like Affinio are able to remove the guesswork and provide data-driven, actionable recommendations.

As an example, we have analyzed the @Pantene Twitter handle using Affinio, the audience intelligence platform, to show what other celebrities may have been a good fit for the brand as a spokesperson.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 4.19.38 PM

As can be seen above, we have pulled the 96 most relevant celebrity accounts found in the Pantene Twitter following. Sitting at number 10 in terms of relevance is the current spokesperson, Selena Gomez. Interestingly, another high relevance account found in the selection is Eva Longoria, a past spokesperson for the brand. Often times brands will look to engage the most popular celebrity in hopes that this will garner more attention, influence, and ultimately sales. However there are a number of reasons why the biggest names don’t get attached to a campaign including the cost of acquisition and availability. For example, some of the more relevant accounts to the Pantene audience include names like Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift – all of whom are locked into high-profile endorsement deals with brands such as COVERGIRL and Keds, which would likely contractually limit their availability to Pantene.

Of course, any brand will need to consider other factors in their candidates aside from popularity and relevance such as the probability of risk. Two candidates listed, while highly relevant, are Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj. Again, tying our selection back to risk, both of these celebrities based on their public image may not be a safe bet for a brand like Pantene to invest in. Remember Miley Cyrus’ unpredictable behaviour at the 2013 VMAs?

Other big-name candidates that data shows resonates with the Pantene audience includes Jessica Simpson, Ariana Grande, Kendall Jenner, and Jennifer Lopez to name a few. Depending on what type of campaign Pantene is looking to produce, Pantene can also use Affinio’s platform to dial into niche tribes and find smaller scale, but highly relevant influencers to partner with.

Why go smaller scale?

Smaller scale influencers also present an attractive opportunity to brands because of their lower acquisition cost, their relevance with niche groups of consumers, and their accessibility. In looking at some smaller scale influencers for Pantene, we identified influencers in a “Make-Up Artists” tribe which included YouTube beauty vloggers such as Casey Holmes, Elle Fowler, and Lauren Curtis. All three of these influencers have between 100,000 to 300,000 followers and are highly relevant to the Pantene audience. Although these influencers do not have the same following as a star such as Selena Gomez, they still have a highly engaged audience, making them a credible and trustworthy source to their followers.

In summary, consumers today have more access to celebrities and influencers which means greater brand exposure for celebrity endorsement deals. This accessibility also means the ability of nearly anyone to become an ‘influencer’. The power of the niche, long-tail influencer cannot be ignored. Taking an audience-centric approach to understanding what influencers to tie to your brand, big or small, and what channels to reach your audience is key to developing a successful and memorable endorsement pairing in 2016.

To learn more about identifying celebrities or influencers for your brand, request a demo.

Originally posted on the Affinio Blog, “Why Celebrity Endorsements Are Relevant in 2016 and Choosing The Right Match