Brands, meet your new celebrities

Everything has a particular meaning, but most importantly everything has a particular meaning to someone.

That’s why you don’t write love letters to your chairman and don’t present boring 150 slide PowerPoint presentations to your spouse. Besides the fact that the context is all wrong, most importantly the reaction one should expect often backfires. In that sense, context really is everything. And so is understanding the other person we’re dealing with.

Perhaps this is why people increasingly shun the overzelous treatment that brands give celebrities. But what really shocks me is that in the context of social media platforms, where it’s easier than ever to let brands know what you think about them and what they do, no one seems to be really listening.

Sure, brands shouldn’t address all needs of every single person, because besides not being scalable it can result in a true loss of identity. It’s a delicate balance, but one which from the start doesn’t even seem to be considered. This is a problem, because brands are nothing without the people who consume them.

I want to argue if we’re addressing the right people with the right treats. Celebrity endorsements might make your efforts more “PRabale”, which means more media will cover what you do. But why? So that more people end up seeing you fancy treating celebrities like... well, like celebrities? Because I suspect this tells very little to most non-celebrity folks.

How about, instead of reinforcing the status quo of existing celebrities, we help build a future with new famous people? People who actually care but whose voice, while public, while right there, while filled with emotion, doesn’t seem to have real feedback, be it in terms of words or, more importantly, in terms of actions. I’m talking, of course, about your customers.

It might be about time we shift the focus of our efforts to those who genuinely care. Some brands already base some part of their social tactics in promoting people’s content instead of just their own. This creates a nice loop of expectation and gratification where everyone sees that if they participate as well, their content might also be highlighted, and when it does, they’re far more likely to share the achievement with their friends. It’s good for everyone’s ego, it’s a win/win situation, and it has near limitless potential.

Recently someone told me, “a happy client is a happy agency”. I want to extend that same notion to what each one of us, as thinkers and executioners of brand strategy, do in terms of delivering some sort of happiness. Sure, this is all business, but in case you didn’t notice, business IS personal. Specially if you’re on the buyer’s side; I don’t know about you, but I take my wallet quite personally.

Teaming with celebrities may get you on the front page. Teaming with consumers will get you a far more genuine endorsement. Which is more important?