In his book, ‘Powerlines: Words That Sell Brands, Grip Fans, & Sometimes Change History,’ Steve Cone, author of ‘Steal These Ideas!: Marketing Secrets That Will Make You A Star‘ explains what spokescharacters and spokespeople have in common:
They should be exclusive to the product or service.
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If marketers cannot secure exclusive rights to a character or group of characters, they should not use them.
Likewise, if a spokesperson merely adds a product to their long list of product endorsements, the ability to use them to their maximum potential is severely diminished.
Takeaway: Make your celebrity spokesperson exclusive.
They should be a natural fit with the product or service.
Tiger Woods is clearly the best person to endorse golf equipment and apparel.
A cat selling cat food makes an obvious connection.
The Doughboy, the Jolly Green Giant, Elsie the Cow, Charlie the Tuna, Peter Pan for peanut butter with the same name — these are character fits that make perfect sense.
And spokespeople, with appropriate wardrobe and props, can be made to look as if they fit with the product.
If a nonhuman character is not an extension of the actual product, it can be made to fit with a tie back to the product name, like Sugar Pops Pete.
Takeaway: Make your celebrity spokesperson a natural fit with your product or service.
They should be used at every touch point to deliver maximum impact.
A character or spokesperson should appear everywhere the product appears — it’s that simple.
Everywhere means just that: all media online and off, company presentations, annual reports, posters in stores or branches, even as the phone voice on a customer service number.
Today, only a handful of companies do this integration successfully.
Takeaway: Use your celebrity spokesperson EVERYWHERE.
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They should rarely, if ever, change.
The Quaker Oats Man [was born in 1877], still has all his teeth, and appears on every cereal box produced by the company.
The Morton Salt Girl was ‘born’ in the same year the Titanic sunk, 1912, but she remains steadfast and unsinkable.
The Marlboro Man still saddles up and the Maytag Repairman continues to slouch idly next to a washer/dryer.
When an identifiable person or celebrity associated with a product dies, touch decisions must be made.
When Frank Purdue died, his son immediately took over spokesman duties.
Colonel Sanders, for Kentucky Fried Chicken, died a decade ago, but his image lives on as the company logo and in animated form in commercials.
It makes no sense to change an instantly recognizable spokescharacter unless there is absolutely no choice.
The associated tagline can live on indefinitely and, nine times out of ten, should.
Sure, products improve over time, but that doesn’t mean the basic pitch should.
Humans are not big on change and hate it when products they have come to love and trust alter their look and basic selling proposition.
The only people who seem vague on this concept are chief marketing officers who land in a new company and immediately make changes just to show how valuable they are.
These types can destroy a brand in short order.
Editors Note: Spokescharacters Uncle Ben and Aunt Jamima were retired in 2020, but lasted a long time. Uncle Ben was created in 1943 and Aunt Jamima in 1889!
Takeaway: Make your celebrity spokescharacters last FOREVER (or nearly forever).”
— From the book ‘Powerlines: Words That Sell Brands, Grip Fans, & Sometimes Change History‘ by Steve Cone.
P.S. For more tips and tricks for using celebrity spokespeople and spokescharacters, get my book ‘Celebrity Leverage: Insider Secrets to Getting Maximum Publicity, Instant Credibility & Star-Powered Publicity.’
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