3 Types of Brand Celebrity Endorsement Deals (+ Payment Options)


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The Celebrity Endorsement Series is written by Billy Bones, founder of Booking Agent Info and Moda Database. This is Part 2. Read Part 1 and 3.

Once you’ve determined that you both want to set up a celebrity brand endorsement deal, and you’ve followed the process to determine which celebrities will add both a brand awareness and sales boost, it’s time to it’s time to determine what type of deal you want to make.

When it comes to celebrity endorsements, there’s really no limit to the ways you can utilize a celebrity spokesperson. Social media campaigns are a popular choice right now, while more traditional advertising campaigns, event ideas or even product development can work great as well. Like all marketing initiatives, how you choose to incorporate a celebrity into business efforts depends on the brand, product, desired message and of course, budget.

No matter how you roll out the campaign, the kinds of deals you can make with celebrities generally fall in one of the following categories:

1. One-Off Celebrity Deals

A one-off endorsement deal means the celebrity is only expected to wear or use your brand’s product for one event. This can be at an event, a public appearance, or even just in a post on their social media account. One-off deals are much more common with celebrities than you’d think – while athletes, for example, are typically locked into multi-year deals with a particular brand, celebrities aren’t usually expected to make the same commitment.

If your brand is just getting off the ground, one-off deals can be extremely valuable: first and foremost, they’re much more cost-effective. Celebrities can fade from popularity pretty quickly, so brands don’t want to worry about having to pay someone who might not be able to consistently generate a certain amount of attention for the brand in the long-term.

2. Unofficial Deals (aka Celebrity Placements)

In some cases, rather than formally hiring a celebrity to endorse their products, brands will simply send free product to a bunch of different celebrities, often relying on a PR agencies with celebrity contacts to perform the outreach.

For some brands, gifting celebrities is worth the cost of giving away some of their product for free. Without an official deal in place, brands can reach out to a wide variety of celebrities in the hopes of reaching new audiences. Unofficial deals can be a good option to get a brand out there without having to fork over the money for an official endorsement deal. But, since the celebrity isn’t being paid, there is no guarantee that they’ll actually promote your product, and it’s up to you to troll a celebrity’s media activity to see if you can spot the brands piece.

3. Long-Term Celebrity Deals

Long-term deals are less common, but there are some cases where brands recognize a celebrity’s staying power and are willing to commit to them long-term. For example, Sofia Vergara has a long-term endorsement deal with Procter & Gamble, the makers of the Head & Shoulders shampoo. Neil Patrick Harris has been a celebrity endorser for Heineken since 2013. Because it can be difficult to predict which celebrities have staying power and which ones might fade in the near future, most brands tend to stay away from long-term deals. But if you think you’ve identified the perfect celebrity endorser and you’re certain they’re not going anywhere for a long time, it might be worth a shot; the celebrity’s endorsement gets more powerful the longer they stay with a brand.

Unofficial deals can be a good option to get a brand out there without having to fork over the money for an official endorsement deal.

Now, when it comes to payment, there are plenty of different kinds of deals that can be made, but the most common is a simple pay-per-action deal where you pay the celebrity a set amount for them to do a certain amount of work. If you don’t have a lot of cash available for this kind of deal, don’t worry – there are a few more options.

1. Offer the Celebrity Equity

Offering a celebrity an equity stake in your brand is a great alternative that costs less up front and works best when the conditions are absolutely right; for example, you need to be sure that the celebrity is committed to maintaining their support of your brand over the long haul and won’t just stop pushing your product after a while.

Equity deals also carry some risk – it’s not unheard of for brands to offer equity to a celebrity, only to have that celebrity fade from the public eye but continue to take a cut of the company’s profits long after their value as an endorser is gone. Equity deals require a lot of careful planning (and a little bit of luck), but if the stars align, equity can be a great way to secure a long-term celebrity endorsement.

2. Provide the Celebrity with a Revenue Share

Revenue sharing is another good way to secure a celebrity endorsement without putting down more money up-front than you can afford. Revenue sharing means partnering with a celebrity who will represent your brand in the public eye; in return, the celebrity will receive a percentage of your sales. Unlike equity, however, the celebrity doesn’t take an ownership stake in your brand.

The celebrity’s endorsement gets more powerful the longer they stay with a brand.

While revenue sharing does cost you less up front, it isn’t free – most celebrities will still often want some sort of up-front payment for their work. But if you have enough money to cover that initial cost, revenue sharing can be a good (and creative) way to secure a celebrity endorsement without going over budget.

3. Offer the celebrity ongoing free product

All these options are great, but what if you don’t have enough money to cover a standard pay-per-action deal, you don’t want to give up any equity in your company, and the celebrity won’t agree to any revenue sharing deal without an up-front fee (which you can’t afford)? In that case, you can always turn to the one thing you have plenty of: your product.

Offering merchandise is a good (and cheaper) way to get your brand’s name out there. You could, for example, offer to send a quarterly gifting box filled with your new season’s collection. As mentioned, many brands will send free merchandise to celebrities in the hopes that the celebrity will be seen using the product and tag/promote it on social media.

Haven’t read Part 1 of this series yet? Read “The 5-Step Checklist for Choosing the Right Celebrity for a Brand” now.

About Billy

Billy Bones is the founder of Booking Agent Info and Moda Database. Moda Database is a celebrity stylist contact list that provides businesses with the contact information for celebrity stylists, and their celebrity clients. Booking Agent Info provides you with the contact information for the official agents, managers, and publicists of celebrities.