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Not Just a Pretty Face: The Power of a Celebrity Endorsement

Lisa Doyle
Reggie Bush shaving with shaving cream and a razor

Barc Skincare celebrity spokesperson and NFL star Reggie Bush

  • Celebrity endorsements can help beauty brands connect with consumers by matching the celebrity’s attributes and style to those of the brand and its products.
  • Sincerity and authenticity are important in a celebrity endorsement of a beauty brand, and on that basis, the relationship can be built for greater equity, collaboration and partnership.
  • Social media is an excellent outlet for the collaboration between celebrities and beauty brands.

Yesterday’s celebrity spokesperson might have touted a product on billboards, print ads and television commercials—and that’s about it. Today, the game has changed, and celebrities take their endorsement deals extremely seriously, especially since these partnerships can lead to more money than they earn at their day jobs. A savvy brand knows it now takes more than a pretty face or a few witty lines to equal a strong endorsement deal—it has to be a true partnership with a celebrity that exemplifies the brand’s spirit and an agreement with options for collaboration from both parties.

Choosing the Celeb

While a celebrity’s A list credentials can be a major selling point for a brand, there are many other attributes a spokesperson should have. First and foremost, the spokesperson should embody the image of the brand. The Wet n Wild brand recently signed recording artist Fergie as spokesperson due to her one-of-a-kind style. “Not only is she beautiful, she has her own sense of style and the unique ability to go from glamorous to sexy to hip to edgy. That individuality and style is very appealing to women across all age, race and ethnic demographics,” explains Brian Talbot, vice president of marketing for Markwins Beauty Products Inc. “For a brand like Wet n Wild, that appeals to so many women. The brand prides itself on delivering affordable fashion with our own sense of style, and Fergie is the perfect fit.”

That’s not to say that all partnerships must be with Grammy winners in order to be successful—choosing an up-and-coming star in tune with a brand’s values also can lead to a match. “At first glance, Virginia’s fresh-scrubbed beauty and chic sense of style struck us as a great fit for the La Fresh brand image,” says Jennifer Norman, vice president of marketing for La Fresh Group, Inc. of new spokesperson Virginia Williams, star of the series Fairly Legal. “But after several more meetings, we were amazed to discover how much her lifestyle and personal values reflect those of La Fresh.”

Likewise, Amway has partnered with ingenue actress Teresa Palmer as the global face of its Artistry beauty brand. “With Teresa Palmer, we have a global face who is simultaneously emerging in the public eye as a dynamic young woman and talented actress and who personifies the essence of the Artistry brand so well, evoking a sense of confidence, femininity, grace and polish through her own personal and professional achievements,” says Maud Pansing, vice president of global marketing for Amway’s beauty division.

Palmer’s Artistry brand ad campaign launched in fall 2012, but she was unveiled to top Amway distributors at the company’s Founders Council May 2012 event in Italy, and she traveled throughout Asia to attend distributor events for the brand.

More Than Lip Service

It can certainly be beneficial when the celebrity is a fan of the brand before the deal is even made. In fact, when the spokesperson is already an avid user of a brand’s product line, it lends a lot of integrity to the partnership.

“The fact that Colbie Caillat was using and loving the Lily.B line before we ever approached her brings an important credibility and authenticity to her relationship with the brand,” agrees Liz Bishop, founder of Lily.B. “We were considering a number of individuals but after meeting with Colbie, our decision was made. She is enormously talented and has the lifestyle, energy and authenticity that make her the perfect brand partner and first spokesperson [for the Lily.B brand].”

<>Likewise, NFL star Reggie Bush already used the Barc Skincare brand before joining forces with them. And his commitment to the brand was deepened in that, through his connection with the brand, he’s not just a spokesperson, but now also a partner and co-owner with a true investment in the men’s grooming brand’s success.


“We didn’t want to enter into a typical endorsement contract where we would approach a celebrity and ask him to simply act as a spokesperson and do a photo shoot or two,” explains Leon Schuurmans, Barc’s director of sales. “Quite frankly, it would be difficult for Barc—or any niche brand—to strike a major deal like that even if we were actively looking for an endorsement. Reggie’s credibility and value derives from the fact that he joined the company as a partner and owner. As an A list athlete, he has endorsement deals pitched to him on a continual basis. Instead, he chose to partner with an independent niche brand whose products he uses and values—a brand he can help direct and help grow.”

In fact, as a partner, Bush had a hand in the Barc brand’s decision and plan to expand its two core products to a full range of skin care products. “We’ve recently refocused attention on our packaging as well, in part due to Reggie’s input,” adds Schuurmans. “In order to reach out and attract new consumers, we’ve redesigned all of our packaging to match the prestige formulas, and Reggie played a large role in this effort.”

Creative Collaboration

Today’s celebrity spokesperson role involves much more than photo shoots, allowing a chance for cross-marketing benefiting both the brand and celebrity. “With our retail partners, we’ve hosted events at the Grammys and had Fergie appear at a sales conference. And for our customers, we’ve hosted two contests already in which they’ve won Fergie swag and Wet n Wild product,” explains Talbot.

Lily.B is enjoying similar success in leveraging Caillat’s fame and talent. “Our partnership with Colbie allows us to provide many exciting opportunities for our retail partners and consumers,” says Bishop. “For example, her 50-city concert tour allowed for Lily.B to offer ticket giveaways with meet-and-greets, local activities and other promotional opportunities.”

And, in an age of tweets and Facebook, it only makes sense that today’s celebrity spokesperson would make use of social media as part of the endorsement deal. The cross-collaboration between a celeb’s own social media outlets and those of the beauty brand can lead to a slew of new customers.

“Online, we’ve had a marked increase in traffic at all our sites with customers intrigued by the partnership and fans of both brands looking for exclusive content,” says Talbot. “And with Fergie tweeting about Wet n Wild and posting comments and looks on her site, we’ll continue to enjoy more traffic.”

As part of Williams’ partnership with La Fresh, she has promoted the brand on Twitter and Facebook, and has even gotten her castmates hooked. “Virginia has been featured in newsletter blasts to subscribers, and she has helped generate widespread publicity through various media interviews,” says Norman.

Passionate Partners

Once the right partnership is made—and when the celebrity is both passionate about the brand and can connect to consumers—the opportunities are endless. “With Reggie, we have a partner with the ability to engage the consumer in conversation and the talent to excite retailers in various distribution channels. At its core, it’s a partnership of values, and we’re in it for keeps,” says Schuurmans.

Lisa Doyle was formerly the associate editor of GCI magazine and is a freelance writer in the Chicago area. Her work has appeared in Skin Inc. magazine, Salon Today, America’s Best, Renew and Modern Salon.

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