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We’ve all heard of celebrity marketing. It’s been around for decades … using a famous person to endorse your brand, be the face of your company, etc. It used to be a pretty big deal for a celebrity to make any sort of alliance with a brand. In fact, several years ago most big names kept their commercial talent abroad, as not to diminish or cheapen their celeb status in the US.  

Fast forward to the last few years … the Hollywood elite are not only endorsing brands, but they are actually becoming a part of the brand’s creative team. They are taking it as far as claiming the title of Creative Director, or even fancier names like Director of Excitement or Chief Creative for Culture. It seems to be a fad that isn’t slowing down, with Matthew McConaughey being the most recent celebrity to join the advertising ranks by signing a multi-year deal with Wild Turkey.

So why the big change?

Well, a lot of it has to do with the all-access world we live in and the fact that a celebrity starring in an overseas commercial no longer has the guarantee it won’t get back to the US. For decades, stars have been making a ton of money from these ads, allowing them to potentially be more selective in their movie roles, or perhaps use the extra cashflow to purchase their next fabulous vacation home. Whatever it is the rich and famous do with their money, they now have to be a lot more careful about the brands they choose to align with.

What’s the value of CD celebs?

One could also argue that there’s a level of comfort in having an actual marketing role within a brand’s organization versus simply starring in the ads. But, I am not going to argue that. In fact, I’m a bit skeptical of how much creative direction and marketing strategy is coming from these celebrity CDs. I think the real change is due to the focus on the millennial consumer, and the fact that brands are starting to figure out how to really engage with this target.

According to the research Moosylvania has been conducting for the past 4+ years, we’ve found that the brands that make the “favorite” list share one key trait: they engage their millennial consumers in the digital space.

Connecting with Millennials

These brands are figuring out ways they can allow their consumer to be active participants in their brands vs. just expecting them to sit back and consume it. It seems that the same approach is being taken with how these brands use celebrities to endorse their products … allowing celebs to participate in the brands versus just starring in the ads.

By default, this will provide brands (and celebs) with a lot of interesting content, which can be used to connect with more consumers/fans and help generate social buzz. They can also use each other to help gain relevance and overall consumer interest, which could be a huge win for both parties.

However, using a partnership like this as a way to gain credibility with consumers … I think that’s maybe a bit of a stretch. According to McConaughey (a newly deemed creative director and authority on the matter) … “Millennials, and I know this for a fact, can smell solicitation. And it’s a turnoff. The best ads are not solicitous.”

Well said, Mr. McConaughey … millennials don’t want to be solicited. That being said, I’m not convinced a celeb, who is probably getting paid more than everyone at the agency combined, is the way to check the box for authenticity. However, you and the people that imitate you on SNL, are very entertaining and for that, I believe Wild Turkey is going to gain a ton of awareness. How this plays out in improving the brand’s overall sales is to be determined. Regardless, I applaud the brand for taking the risk and hope Mr. McConaughey performs as well at the round table as he does on the big screen.

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