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How Far Can Celebrity Endorsements Really Take A Brand?

May 22, 2024

Marketing News

How Far Can Celebrity Endorsements Really Take A Brand?

No marketer could ask for a better gift than Beyoncé titling one of her latest songs after their brand.

This is exactly the reality for Levi’s CMO, Kenny Mitchell, and let us be the first to say we’re incredibly jealous.

As a brand whose ethos stands on creating resonating moments within pop-culture, being recognised by a pop-culture icon like Beyoncé feels heaven-sent. Throw in a few organic posts from the queen herself wearing Levi’s denim, and you have yourself a recipe for success.

Beyoncé X Levi's

Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter album, released on the 29th March, features the song ‘LEVII’S JEANS’, named after iconic denim-focused clothing brand, Levi’s. No, this was not part of an elaborate marketing campaign (though if it was, we’d love to know how it was pulled off), instead the song was gifted by Beyoncé out of love for the brand’s championing of various denim styles, such as the Canadian Tuxedo, which heavily influenced the Cowboy Carter aesthetic.

This opportune gift could not have come at a more favourable time in Levi’s eyes, as the brand was left reeling after its Q1 net revenue fell 7.8% year over year to $1.6 billion, with wholesale falling 18% also. But despite the struggles, the retail giant’s executives pointed out that, thanks to the LEVII’S JEANS effect, the brand is thriving in inventory and expense discipline, direct-to-consumer sales growth, renewed strength in the U.S., and strengthening faith in denim. 

This retail revival represents more than just a fleeting spike in sales, however. It signifies the convergence of music, fashion, and celebrity influence that has the potential to breathe new life into traditional retail formats. The digital shopping era is upon us, making celebrity endorsements in fashion not only relevant, but vital. 

Capitalising further on the success of Beyoncé’s endorsement, Levi’s have since gone on to collaborate with Tanner Adell, a featured singer on Cowboy Carter, by fitting her for her first ever stagecoach outfit and, in turn, fully leaning into the LEVII’S JEANS effect.

Tanner X Levi's

To pay homage to the singer’s involvement and her use of the double-i throughout her album to signify act ii, Levi’s changed its name and logo to LEVII’S across its social handles. This moment in itself generated billions of organic impressions, as well as a 20% increase in foot traffic to Levi’s stores. This low-risk-high-reward strategy speaks to the current need for marketers to embrace agility and adaptation, given the proliferation of fast-moving TikTok micro trends dominating social media culture.  

Alongside Levi’s evident exercising of social listening skills with its new approach to more agile marketing decisions, the birth of this cultural phenomenon urges us to evaluate just how far celebrity endorsements can take a brand. Organic or not.

How successful are celebrity endorsements in the influencer-driven age of social media?

Despite living in the age of the social media influencer, celebrity endorsements aren’t entirely redundant. This is because, when given the option, people are more likely to choose products that are endorsed by a celebrity rather than a non-celebrity. Researchers suggest that the persuasive ability of celebrities is rooted in evolution and biology. Both humans and primates will follow the lead of high-status individuals within their group by copying their decisions. 

Though this isn’t to say that the modern consumer can’t think for themselves, it’s almost a given that wanting to copy a celebrity as high-profile as Beyoncé is the goal for a lot of people, as it affirms wealth, status, trendiness etc.

Take Michael Jordan X Nike for example. Arguably the most successful of all celebrity endorsements, this collaboration didn’t only increase shoe sales, but also inspired a whole new generation of athletes and sneaker lovers. Within the first three years of the endorsement, Nike made $126 million, shattering its initial goal of $3 million. If we’re exploring how far celebrity endorsements can really take a brand, here’s your answer.

Sure, back in 1984 competition between celebrities and influencers didn’t exist, pushing celebrity endorsements to be more widely received. However, even modern celebrity endorsement campaigns are reaping huge benefits. Ryan Reynolds’ association with Mint Mobile has seen the four-year-old company grow tremendously, boosting revenue by 50,000%. 

Today, it doesn’t matter so much if a celebrity endorses your brand, what matters is who you associate with it. Authenticity and the maintenance of values now takes precedence over simply attaching a high-profile celebrity to your brand, leading to increased risk of your decisions backfiring and ruining your reputation. Take Kanye West’s association with Adidas for example. The apparel and footwear company paid the price both literally and morally. 

Whether an insensitive investment or leaked tweeting spree, researching into a celebrity’s history is vital to save your brand from potential negative associations. Once these checks are completed and you’ve identified your brand’s values in alignment with your chosen celebrity, the endorsement may proceed with a hefty price attached. Unfortunately not all celebrity endorsements can be as divinely-gifted as Beyoncé’s to Levi’s. 

As retailers navigate the challenges of the post-pandemic world, the LEVII’S JEANS effect stands as a compelling example of the enduring power of brick-and-mortar stores. By capitalising on cultural moments and strategic partnerships, retailers can craft experiences that surpass the convenience of online shopping and remind consumers of the unique charm of in-person browsing and purchasing.

Our influencer marketing agency and social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to find industry insights, visit our influencer marketing and social media blogs.

@sociallypowerful

Author

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Shannon Maher

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