Overview:  The Hartford Small Business Ahead interviews Hollywood Branded CEO Stacy Jones on how celebrity gifting works for businesses.

Written By Linda Childers for The Hartford Small Biz Ahead

Saturday October 11, 2014

When PassionRoses launched a new website in early 2014, they hired Hollywood Branded, an entertainment marketing agency based in El Segundo, Calif., to help them land a celebrity endorsement.

Their goal: drive traffic to their new website where customers could purchase high quality hand-picked roses directly, rather than a grocer, floral retailer, or one of their large competitors such as Teleflora or 1-800-Flowers.

The result was a perfect match: Hollywood Branded CEO Stacy Jones sourced and signed Warner Brothers musician, Jason Derulo, who not only had a new album to promote, but was also looking for a unique way to surprise his girlfriend, American Idol winner and singer Jordin Sparks on Valentine’s Day. The Hollywood Branded team filled a hotel room with 10,000 PassionRoses and Derulo agreed to post about the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As a result both Derulo and Sparks posted photos of the event on social media over the course of the next week, reaching over 26 million fans. In addition, over 50 media outlets including People, the Huffington Post and more also picked up the story, resulting in increased sales and traffic for PassionRoses’ website.

“A celebrity seen with a brand provides a perceived endorsement presence that can impact sales and create consumer awareness of the brand,” says Jones.

Yet before a small business decides to pursue a celebrity endorsement, it’s important to take the following steps:

Have a Plan

“Many small businesses believe a celebrity endorsement will help their business, but they don’t have a media plan,” Jones says. “We match celebrity endorsements to the brand by taking into consideration desired demographic reach, market timing requirements, and the overall results and takeaways the brand is seeking.”
Ensure the Celebrity is a Good Fit – “It’s important to choose a celebrity who resonates with your brand and has a social media presence that reflects the consumers your company is trying to reach,” Jones says. “A lot of small businesses may want an A-list star, but the reality is that B and even C-list stars are often more relatable to consumers.”

Rachel Weingarten, a brand-marketing strategist with Culet Marketing in Brooklyn, New York, also recommends working with a celebrity who shares your brand’s values and lifestyle . “If the celebrity is involved in a scandal, or falls out of favor with the public, that could also reflect poorly on your business,” Weingarten says.

Consider Hiring a Consultant

While it’s possible for small businesses to land their own celebrity endorsements using a database such as bookingagents.com, working with a marketing consultant who has established relationships in the entertainment industry can often expedite the process.

“Celebrity endorsements come in many forms including merchandise placed in “swag bags” at award show parties, product placements in television and movies, or celebrities giving your business a shout-out on social media,” Weingarten says. “An entertainment marketing consultant can help businesses decide what approach makes the most sense, and take under consideration the company’s budget and desired outcome.”

“Authentic and organic relationships between celebrities and small businesses are the most effective,” Jones says. “For example, we recently worked with American Jewel Hair Ties to provide 75 gift bags, complete with three sets of their hair ties for Dancing with the Stars pro Anna Trebunskaya’s baby shower. In exchange, Anna gave shout-outs to the company on Instragram, Twitter and Facebook.”

Prepare to be Inundated

“Maybe a small business hopes to have a celebrity baby photographed wearing their company’s custom baby clothes, “ says Weingarten. “Yet they also need to be prepared for the possibility of fulfilling an onslaught of orders after they receive media coverage. For a small business with three employees, this might not be realistic, unless they are willing to hire additional staff .”


Stacy Jones

Stacy Jones has become a world-renowned specialist in branded content. Now it’s her mission to share her expertise and help brands and other business owners and executives leverage the tools our agency has crafted in building brand awareness – using the same proven methods she’s built her agency on and leveraged for client success.