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How to avoid celebrity brand damage

How to avoid celebrity brand damage

By Gavan Stewart, Founder of Touchdown Brand Affinity Marketing

A hefty fracas surrounding recent events on Channel 4 programmes, ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Shipwrecked’, has the nation up in arms and global relations strained as Britain “the brand” is put under the microscope.

At the heart of the debate are the contrived and tenuous relationships between certain media, brands and celebrity loose cannons. 

I predicted negative fall out from this style of “celebrity conflict” marketing, publicly in 2005, based on my agency, Touchdown’s brand partnership and sponsorship intelligence and analytics.

Unavoidable issues for every marketer on why associating with celebrities is not ‘safe or savvy’ like it used to be. The positive future is in corporate brand partnership for a more thought out, profitable and sustainable relationship with audiences and consumers.

This avoids the reliance on fickle humans as the face of a brand  and the threat of distasteful and offensive backfire.

When 'Big Brother’s headline sponsors, Carphone Warehouse pulled out of a £3 million campaign and Debenhams and The Perfume Shop chose to cut all ties with the likes of Big Brother’s Jade Goody and Danielle Lloyd to avoid association with their racist rants, they realised their partnerships had made them the victims of negative spin. 

As a brand partnership expert I know that the  pressures on marketing departments to choose the right celebrity have never been greater. Associating a brand which has been carefully built over many years with Z list ‘stars’ is tenuous and not sustainable, especially given Big Brothers recent offering.

This has been a lesson for us all involved in brand marketing and promotion. Successful  brands need to protect their profile in niche and mass markets. That is the core function of using brand partnership experts rather than general marketers when forming any brand alliance.

Working with other brands to improve perception or increase awareness could be misconstrued as boring in comparison.  It’s not.  The assurances exist so that brand partners won’t be seen in the tabloids allegedly sniffing class A substances, nor will they be in the  ‘Big Brother Diary room’, slowly dismantling their own credibility.

At Touchdown Brand Affinity we have developed a series of proprietary tools to match brands with each other.

Brandmine is a psychodemographic system that will identify the correct brand match using an affinity filter that overlays commercial objectives on top of marketing requirements, brand personality and audience radar.  Sounds complicated. 

It took me several years to develop but has refined the process of sharing control as an intermediary between brands.  We negotiate and manage every aspect of the brand partnerships for our clients so the control is shared equally between all parties.

As a result hearts and minds are won using precision planning, mapping and management tools that enables us and our brand clients to take ownership of any brand partnership scenario.

In our experience, the utmost due diligence is taken in aligning and evaluating brand partnerships to avoid being at the whim of any hot potatoes commercial partners may throw into the mix.

Our clients benefit from a meticulous brand affinity consultancy service that maps out all angles of opportunity and threat in partnership and manages the entire process including an ongoing promotion and reputation management from our 24PR reputation management.

This results in conscientious and profitable audience interaction - In effect we are putting brands and sponsors into the house together but with careful management and mediation services in place to prevent any adverse eruptions.

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