Getting a celebrity to promote your brand has long been a desirable but costly way to get your audience’s attention.
Some charities could rely on a patron who believed in their cause, but often celebrities have wanted tens of thousands of pounds for an endorsement.
But for most small companies or public sector and not-for-profit brands, it’s been not just out of their budget, but also not at all worth the investment.
However – lately it’s become easier to snag a ‘personality’ at no or low cost to help us amuse and reach new audiences.
I’m going to show you how some councils are bringing in famous faces on the cheap to help them get extra social media reach.
Don’t get hung up on status
When we’re looking for household names to help us promote messages for social good, we often think people will only be interested or impressed with an A-lister.
I mean, at Comms Creatives, we got the gorgeous Mr Boombastic himself, Shaggy, to give a pep talk to our brilliant comms professional pals all over the world.
📢 People who work in #comms.
In case you forgot, Shaggy appreciates you. pic.twitter.com/skW1ObfflK
— Hel Reynolds (@HelReynolds) November 4, 2020
I never thought we’d be able to afford such a pop icon from our marketing budget!
We didn’t need to hire a superstar though.
You don’t need someone everybody in the country knows. You need someone who everyone in your audience knows.
Cheltenham Council and Tweedy
We all know, Facebook isn’t the easiest place to get reach and engagement from your audience.
As I write this, Cheltenham have had 14.3k views on this video from Tweedy the clown.
He’s a local legend.
I don’t know him, and clowns actually freak me out, but if you’re from Cheltenham, you probably know Tweedy.
Perhaps he evokes feelings of nostalgia from appearing in pantomimes local people went to as kids.
Collaborating with someone known, loved and familiar is a genius move.
Tweedy adds his own style to the message and communicates in a way a council comms professional wouldn’t. (Unless the comms pro happens to be a clown, which I think will be a rare occurrence.)
As far as I’m aware, Tweedy did this out of a sense of community spirit and I take my hat off to him and the lovely comms team at Cheltenham Borough Council. I’ve heard they’ve got a few more tricks up their sleeve coming up soon too.
Councils using Cameo celebrities for public health messages
In 2020 during lockdown, celebrities like Steve Guttenberg and Lindsay Lohan found guest appearances, gigs and filming had dried up, these celebs saw video app Cameo as a way to keep working.
If you’ve not heard of it, on Cameo you can pay a relatively small fee to get a short video message from a well-known face.
It’s great fun and depending on who you book, pretty cheap. Paul Chuckle from The Chuckle brothers is only £44.99. Snoop Dogg is $999.99.
It might lose its novelty by next year, but for now, famous appearances on your social media channels is a good way to get attention.
Here, Essex Council get notorious Netflix star and possibly dodgy animal rights activist, Carole Baskin, to spread the word about staying safe from Covid 19.
Not something I’d ignore in my home feed.
Oldham Council paid £34 to get Jay from the Inbetweeners to talk about coronavirus guidance.
If you don't follow the local guidance on #Coronavirus, #Oldham could face a local lockdown so play your part in helping to save lives and preventing the spread of this virus. We ALL have a role to play 👉 https://t.co/fWEJWxfQrr
— Oldham Council (@OldhamCouncil) August 10, 2020
“Nearly 100,000 people watched the video through the council’s social media pages alone, and it was exposed to a potential audience of millions more as websites such as the Independent and LadBible reshared it.”
Cameras on smartphones have made celebrity content easier to get your hands on
High profile actors, comedians and musicians are an option now.
These talented people have access to a recording studio in their pockets and handbags, by just talking to their smartphone, they can add a little star appeal to your work.
Choose your celeb wisely.
They might even do it for free if you ask nicely and it’s something they support.
My Hoff story
I promised a few people I’d share a personal story of Cameo, here it is.
I commissioned a video from Knightrider legend, David Hasselhoff, as a gift to me and Lesley for working so hard on it, and to help us let people know about the course.
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Now for the random Hoff video: pic.twitter.com/ldrZ7qSavV
— Hel Reynolds (@HelReynolds) September 16, 2020
When we booked the Hoff, we experienced an unexpected turn of events…
Dave (I call him Dave now), sent me a message via the Cameo app that asked me to get in touch with his agent.
‘Does he want to work with us?’ I thought. That would be amaaaazing!
I rang the number he gave me of his agent, Judy.
I heard her lovely New York accent say “Hello?”
I told her why I was calling.
She didn’t have the foggiest clue what I was on about.
My embarrassing excitement had made me sound like a Welsh, female bumbling Hugh Grant.
“He said what? Run me through this again.”
I don’t think Judy liked me. I suspect I sounded bonkers, desperate, idiotic. I’m too awkward to be moving with the Hollywood movers and shakers.
Anyway, she was seeing his Hoffness the next day.
Lesley and I hastily put together a proposal. Great social media adheres to the same principles for superstars as it does for any brand.
We know we could do a memorable and fun campaign for King Hoff.
Was this in our business plan? No. Of course not.
But the opportunity was too tantalising.
Anyway, it turns out a few days later, neither Judy nor David wanted to work with us, and I don’t blame them for that.
We don’t have a portfolio stuffed with icons and legends to prove our worth. We tend to work with comms professionals – we think they’re superstars, but they’re not celebs.
Once again, David Hasselhoff had told us to ‘Hoff off’.
But it was a right laugh – I had got carried away with a dream – imagining Lesley and I might spend Christmas with the Hoffs, and be their pals.
The whole experience gave me some light daydreaming relief from COVID worries.
And the Hoff, for at least a few minutes, was aware of my existence.