Greg Simpson, founder of Press for Attention PR and Enterprise Nation Champion for Nottingham, considers celebrity partnerships.
Chances are, when you are looking to raise some media profile in either the ‘traditional’ press or across social media, your thoughts will have strayed to the potential of a celebrity tie-in or partnership.
It seems to make sense, they have huge profiles, you don’t, so you shell out for the tempting shortcut, piggyback on their brand and sail off into the media sunset together.
It just makes things so much easier…doesn’t it?
Well, tell that to Gillette razors who a few years back signed up the BIGGEST names in sport to front their campaign.
Roger Federer, the nicest man on the tennis circuit, utterly charming and arguably the greatest player of all time. A very smooth operator on court and in life. Spoiler alert…he’s my sporting icon!
Thierry Henry, already on the way to becoming a legend and famous for his smooth style of play and cool, calm demeanour. Effortless in his approach to the game but utterly devastating. Classically uber-cool French flair.
Tiger Woods, at the time, probably the BIGGEST sporting brand on the planet. Taking the game of golf to new levels and almost changing the way many people played the game. As inspiration to millions and opening the game up to an entirely new market.
Then it all started to go a little bit wrong, except for with Roger. Obviously!
Gillette signed up the talented trio in response to losing ‘Goldenballs’ himself David Beckham. OK, you now have three big brands to manage, let alone their egos but the reach is HUGE! So, you’re feeling pretty confident if you are Gillette’s head of brand.
Break out the balm, we’re in for a smooth ride.
They are genuinely the outstanding players of their generation, they are all charming, clean-cut chaps with a loyal following and their own successful brands. It can only get better for us all guys – break out the balm, it’s going to be a smooth ride.
Then…it all started to unravel rather quickly.
Henry cheated on the world stage for France vs Ireland and as for Tiger, well, let’s just say he was working through more than a few issues that were causing his game and his life to spiral out of control. It was proof once again of the perils (as well as the pluses) of associating your brand with celebrities, or with anyone for that matter.
Basically, people make mistakes. No matter how clean their image when they signed the contract you never know what is around the corner. Even false allegations can damage your brand.
I cannot fault Gillette for hiring the three amigos. They were the perfect match and to be honest, I’m not sure that the indiscretions of Mr Henry and Mr Woods even did long-term damage. Although…one can probably plot the rise of the beard as fashion staple v clean-shaven from here!
It wasn’t a MASSIVE problem for Gillette as the audience they sought to influence was primarily concerned with the skills of these super sportsmen, their image was secondary.
Whisper it quietly but at the time, there was probably a small conclave that found Tiger Woods MORE appealing as either a rogue or at least a human being compared to his somewhat robotic persona of the previous decade.
However, note how times have changed and Gillette’s new approach to PR, now they are now all about the more ‘modern’ man and tackling ‘toxic masculinity’.
PS you might think “well, proof that there’s no such thing as bad publicity…” don’t even get me started on that!