Jul 2, 2008

The celebrity blogger as brand ambassador

In a recent blog post, Brants raises an interesting question : How should a celebrity endorser who aslo blogs react in a crisis afflicting the brand? Should he be true to his brand or to the spirit of blogging?

Brants also quotes the example of celebrity blogger Amitabh Bachchan and a micro-crisis that erupted with his blogging service recently (who are rumoured to be paying him a fortune to blog there.) That incident, however, seemed manufactured to me - after all Bollywood actors are used to 'creating' incidents/romances/accidents to promote films.

But if a real crisis - a la pesticides in cola - erupt, what should the celebrity blogger as brand ambassador do? Churn out one blog post after another and use his enhanced authority to stoutly defend the brand? Or join the consumers on the street and demand answers/clarifications/actions?

There's no formula - and different brand-celebrity permuations and combinations will react in different ways. From celebrity foolhardily defending the brand to celebrity remaining mum and letting his silence speak. But what's clear is the inclusion or exclusion of a celebrity's blog property will indeed feature prominently in negotiations - allowing the celebrity in question to command a premium over a plain vanilla celebrity endorser with no blog property.

But brands and brand ambassadors will do well to remember one thing. Celebrity endorsers don't exactly score very highly on trust and are mostly viewed with skepticism. Audiences might like celebrities but they also understand that endorsements are brokered over money, not good-feelings.

Endorsements are usually the rubbing together of two brands - one product, the other person - with the hope of the transfer of some property from seller (celebrity) to buyer (brand.) How both react if a crisis were to erupt, will affect the future brand equity and following of both of them.

A smart celebrity will be aware that ensorsements will come and go, but one's blog will stay.Whether it stays overflowing with a dedicated community of followers or as an empty edifice, will be determined by his actions in the present.
About the author:
Iqbal Mohammed is Head of Innovation & Strategy at a digital innovation agency serving the DACH and wider European markets. He is the winner of the WPP Atticus Award for Best Original Published Writing in Marketing & Communication.
You can reach him via email or Twitter.


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