Celebrity Endorsement: How to Use a Celebrity for Your Campaigns and Events [+ Examples]

immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated May 15 2022
Celebrity endorsement
immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated May 15 2022

Who still remembers George Clooney’s Nespresso ad or even Michael Jackson’s endorsement of Pepsi, back in the 80s? Absolutely everyone. Because celebrity endorsements work. Kaltura recently partnered with David Duchovny of X-Files, Californication, and The Bubble fame to create a brand awareness campaign that would create buzz around our Event Platform and Virtual Classroom solutions. This article will help you get started with your own celebrity endorsement, based on our experience, with a few memorable examples to boot.



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What is a celebrity endorsement?

Celebrity endorsement, also known as celebrity branding or celebrity advertising is a marketing strategy that uses a celebrity’s fame and image to promote a brand or product. Other use cases include not-for-profit organizations that leverage a celebrity’s fame to raise awareness or funding around a cause. Or event marketers leveraging a celebrity’s fame and popularity to create buzz and prestige around their virtual or hybrid event


Your celebrity of choice doesn’t need to be a movie star, per se. Brands have produced excellent branding campaigns with music artists, sports personalities, social media influencers, or even fictitious characters like cartoons. The two basic requirements that will define your choice of celebrity are image (does the celebrity represent your values) and following (how large an audience will you reach via this celebrity). More on that in the next section.




Why use celebrities for advertising?

Brands partner with celebrities for a number of reasons. According to Forbes contributor Steve Olenski, celebrity endorsement helps increase sales in the short term and brand awareness in the long term.


Celebrity marketing is also very effective to mark a major change for a brand, like the introduction of a new product, market expansion, or brand repositioning. Nike traditionally sponsored mainly tennis and track athletes. When they decided to expand their market, they partnered with NBA star Michael Jordan to create a new product line and release a series of ads that yielded tremendous success.


Celebrity branding can also be a powerful strategy to differentiate yourself from your competitors and get the edge in a highly competitive market.


For Kaltura, the David Duchovny campaign marked a big change in the way we tell our brand story. We shifted our main focus from lead generation campaigns and smart acquisition to include a 360-degree brand awareness campaign.



Celebrity endorsement: email banner
Example of a creative asset we made for our email campaign. Clicking it takes the reader to Kaltura’s video ad featuring David Duchovny.



What are the risks of celebrity advertising?

There are some risks involved in celebrity branding that you should be aware of. Some can be avoided by choosing the right celebrity for your brand, others are force majeure and might require you to break the partnership:


Overshadowing: If the celebrity is too big for your brand or the storyline of your commercial puts the focus on the celebrity instead of the product, your campaign won’t be effective. Always remember that your brand is the star, and your celebrity is the spotlight.


Overexposure: Some celebrities are real endorsement junkies, connecting their names to a host of different brands simultaneously. This could hurt the credibility of both the brand and the celebrity in the eye of the consumer. It’s also important to verify that your celebrity promotes compatible brands. You don’t want any competitors among those brands, or brands that don’t align with your company values.


Brand reputation risk: we’re all guilty of sneaking a peek at the tabloids, from time to time. People love a good celebrity scandal. Brands don’t. Not when their name and reputation are linked to that celebrity. Sex, drugs, or bad behavior can negatively influence your brand image. Do a background check to see if your celebrity has been involved in any scandal or has a propensity for unacceptable behavior. Other kinds of changes in a celebrity’s image and life can impact your brand as well, such as decreased popularity or visibility.


We chose David Duchovny because A we love him, B his level of fame and his image fit our brand values and personality, and C his latest film The Bubble ties in perfectly with the storyline of our script. We’ve done our due diligence and felt secure connecting our reputation to David’s.



Celebrity endorsement: email banner
Another example of a creative asset we made for our email campaign. Clicking it takes the reader to Kaltura’s video ad featuring David Duchovny.



Types of celebrity endorsements

There are a few ways a celebrity can endorse your brand or product.


Celebrity ads and commercials – These ads can appear as banners and videos for paid campaigns, on social media, or as video bumpers on YouTube. You can also go the more classic way and purchase commercial slots on television or have the celebrity host an infomercial rather than an ad.


Celebrity appearances in live events – brands often invite a celebrity to present a keynote or to host their entire hybrid or virtual event. In their 2020 edition, Dreamforce to You went all-in with appearances by James Corden, Metallica, and Lenny Kravitz. More on this in the next section.


Celebrity signature product lines – some brands put a celebrity name or face directly on their product. This is quite common in certain industries like music instruments (think Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton Signature model), clothing (the aforementioned and legendary Nike Air Jordans), or other products like Vitaminwater, to which 50 Cent lent his face.


Celebrity spokesperson – Celebrity spokesperson advertising is common in the not-for-profit sector and causes. The celebrity attracts attention while speaking in the name of the organization at third-party events and to the media.


Sometimes brands offer (mostly honorary) titles to their celebrity as part of the deal. Lady Gaga has a “day job” as the Creative Director for Polaroid. Justin Timberlake occupies the same position for golf brand Callaway. Must be great fun around the coffee machine. But it’s also a powerful statement towards the consumer.




How to leverage a celebrity for your virtual or hybrid event

A powerful way to leverage celebrity fame and popularity for your brand is through appearances at your virtual or hybrid event. This can take on many different shapes. You can have your celebrity host your event by giving an opening speech and introducing speakers. You can hire a celebrity to come and do what they do best, like entertaining your audience with a mini-concert or a stand-up comedy show. Some event marketers had the tremendous idea of booking celebrity chefs for a cooking workshop.


Last year, we invited Lior Raz, co-creator and star of the Netflix shows “Fauda” and “Hit & Run”, to deliver the closing keynote “Crafting Binge-Worthy Customer Experiences” at our annual event Virtually Live! by Kaltura. As an ex-marketer turned actor, Mr. Raz delivered invaluable insights to our audience of marketing professionals. Working with a celebrity who has authority and relevance in your field can greatly increase the impact of your event and your message on your audience.


Virtual events are a great format for celebrity appearances because they are much more flexible in terms of schedule and location. Celebrities can have their parts prerecorded at a time and place that suits them best. This prerecorded session can then be scheduled and streamed into your event like a live session (simulive). Check out Kaltura’s events platform for on-demand, live, and simulive virtual event experiences of any type and size.


TIP: If your event coincides with your celebrity’s publicity tour (e.g., for their latest album or film), you can try to negotiate a better deal to make the appearance part of their promotional efforts.



Celebrity endorsement



How to ask a celebrity to promote your brand?

Celebrities are managed by an entourage of managers, agents, publicists, etc. It will take some research to find out who represents your celebrity and whom you’ll need to talk to. They’ll usually have a website with a contact form or mentioning an email address. You’ll have to present your brand in the right way and formulate a proposal describing what you expect from the celebrity and how he or she connects to your brand. Understand that their main concern is the image of the celebrity they represent, so make that part of your pitch. Your proposal should also include your budget and your requirements (when, where, how long, …) to paint a complete picture of the project. Mention the deliverables as well. What format? How long? Where will you distribute and how long will the campaign run for?


In the next stage, when you are in direct contact with the management team, the legal consultants need to sit together and draft a contract detailing all the points listed in the proposal.


Our main tip is to do your research:

  • Create a shortlist of celebrities, based on their image, popularity, relevance, and budget.
  • Make sure the celebrity is a good fit with your script and message. You can even do user testing groups in your relevant GEOs to check they resonate with your audience
  • Compare prices and offering (do they approve all the requirements you laid out in your proposal).
  • Get a feel of how cooperative they are.
  • Celebrity contracts usually come with an expiry date, setting a clear time limit until when you can run your celebrity campaign. This is an important point to consider during contract negotiations.



Celebrity endorsement: floating banner
Example of a CTA banner we created for our landing page. Clicking it takes our visitors to the Virtual Classroom free trial subscription page.


How to get the most out of your celebrity endorsement?

We’ve already touched on quite a few dos and don’ts in the previous section. We know now that it’s important to fit the right celebrity with the right product. The celebrity should also be carefully chosen according to popularity, positive image, relevance, price, and other current endorsements. Furthermore, we discussed the importance of the celebrity being the spotlight on your product and not the other way around.


We’d like to complete that list of best practices with 6 additional guidelines to get the most out of your celebrity endorsement:


    1. Make it a long-term commitment

It’s good practice to view celebrity endorsement as a long-term strategy. It takes time for the audience to connect the celebrity with the brand and identify them with each other (think Clooney’s long-term partnership with Nespresso). Especially if you’re using celebrity endorsement as a strategy to attract new audiences or to reposition your brand.


    1. Build a 360-degree campaign around your celebrity.

Celebrity marketing is a costly endeavor. You’re going to want to do more with it than putting out a quick video for a paid campaign. Get ready to roll all your marketing muscles and create a big splash:

    • Video ads and bumpers for YouTube and other social platforms
    • Banners for paid campaigns on social media and Google
    • BTS posts on blogs and social (articles, photos, and videos)
    • Videos banners and assets on the company website
    • Internal campaigns for employees (employee advocacy, merch, events, …)
    • Email campaigns
    • Press releases


    1. Mind the legalities

Legalities make celebrity branding very different from any other type of marketing campaign. You will be dealing with complicated contracts, agents, and unions. Make sure to have your legal team on board but consider hiring external consultants who have experience with celebrity projects.


    1. Foster working relationships

A celebrity endorsement is an intense collaboration between quite a few parties that all have their own agendas and requirements. And Hollywood agents are notorious for being tough cookies when it comes to protecting their celebrity’s image and career. Taking the time to build trust and rapport with all the involved parties will go a long way.


    1. Follow your celebrity

No need to stalk your celebrity, but you do want to keep tabs on their behavior and actions, to make sure they stay in line with your company values. You should include a clause in your contract that offers a solution for these kinds of contingencies.


    1. Measure your success

There’s no easy and clearcut metric for your celebrity campaign performance, but it’s important to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative effect of the endorsement on your brand, lead generation, and sales. If possible, don’t schedule your celebrity campaign at the same time as other major campaigns or known seasonal performance fluctuations, so that you can isolate the performance of your celebrity branding and better calculate your ROI.


These tips are largely based on our experience building a celebrity endorsement campaign with David Duchovny. Read our Behind-the-Scenes blog post to get a more personal account.




5 celebrity advertising examples

It always pays to see what others have done to get a better idea of what you want and how you should go about executing your campaign. Here are 5 successful celebrity advertising examples…


Kaltura and David Duchovny

Kaltura wanted to highlight the importance of living life, learning, and connecting with others, in these challenging times. They found the perfect celebrity in the always witty, always charming David Duchovny. From the shelter of his barricaded basement, he shares his secret on how to keep on learning and be social in two separate videos: one for Kaltura Events and another one for Kaltura Virtual Classroom. Kaltura managed to tie in their campaign with the current times and with the release of Duchovny’s latest film The Bubble, chronicling the difficulties of a film production crew shooting an action franchise during a lockdown.

Great timing, great fit, funny commercial.



Playology and Jon Lovitz

Jon Lovitz (SNL, A League of Their Own) is a hoot and a half. Having a funny senior actor endorse a product for senior dogs proved a winning strategy. This September 2020 campaign won the hearts of the viewers. Lovitz is relatable and sweet in his role as the owner of an old dog that we’ll forgive his dislike for puppies. Notice the eye-catching hashtag #jonlovitzhatespuppies.



Uber Eats and Patrick Stewart vs. Mark Hamill

Uber Eats hit a homerun with their 2020 campaign in which they settled a few age-old feuds in one single ad: Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Tom-ay-to vs. tom-ah-to, … and American popular dishes vs. British popular dishes. For this ad, Uber Eats worked with British Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart and American Star Wars actor Mark Hamill. While they fight out their differences, Uber Eats happily delivers meals to both sides. The message is clear. Pure genius.



Tampax and Amy Schumer

When you want to break social barriers, sometimes a blunt and direct approach will get your message across best… and that’s why you would hire Amy Schumer for your ad. Tampax wanted to combine a branding campaign with social awareness around the taboo subject of periods. They amplified their campaign and tore down walls with fun but powerful tag lines, such as “No Shame In Our Tampax Game,” “Time to Tampax,” and “What’s Your Combo.”



Beats by Dre and Naomi Osaka

This is another example in which activism meets celebrity marketing, but this time with a mixed-race female athlete in the main role. Both Dr Dre and Naomi Osaka have been known to speak out for causes that are dear to them. Their collaboration put the spotlight on Beats by Dre’s new Flex wireless earphones but, at the same time, drew attention to the Black Lives Matter cause with a slogan that fits both: “Silence is Violence”. In this visually striking commercial video, not a word is spoken.




Learn more about Kaltura Events and Virtual Classroom

These are the real stars of our David Duchovny celebrity branding campaign!

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Kaltura Events is our all-in-one solution to create, manage, and measure every type of hybrid or virtual event for any type of audience

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Kaltura Virtual Classroom is an online learning platform designed to deliver engaging and interactive learning experiences to your remote students.

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