Main picture: David Beckham for Haig Club Whisky.
What do George Clooney, David Beckham, Bob Dylan, Matthew McConaughey, Jay Z, Ryan Reynolds, Drake, Connor McGregor, Darius Rucker, Channing Tatum and at least a dozen more celebrities have in common? They’ve each matched their own branding to hard liquor.
Ben Woo is based in Los Angles as managing director with global business strategy firm, RedSky Insights. He helps clients become focused and stay focused to achieve stronger growth and higher returns on their investments.
When it comes to adding celebrities to brands, Ben says, “In categories with little product differentiation from the POV of the average consumer, manufacturers must differentiate by brand instead. However, names, logos and packaging can only get you so far in a crowded marketplace.
“It takes significant investment to generate brand awareness to the point of increasing familiarity to meaningful levels to move the needle. Instead, manufacturers turn to instantly recognizable celebrities and borrow their brand equities and fan followings in order to stand out from the crowd,” he asserts.
“Likewise, celebrities now are looking to monetize their fame and following in every way possible. Their brand, social media following, and influence can be worth much more than whatever helped them garner fame in the first place – like a basketball player making more from a shoe deal, car commercial, and movie cameo than from their NBA contract.”
Woo concludes, “The spirits space is especially ripe for this kind of monetization because consumers often can’t try a spirit before they buy it, and rely instead on other indicators. Celebrity endorsement has been part of spirits marketing for decades, but consumers are looking for deeper connections – and celebrities are looking for investment opportunities.
From Bethenny Frankel’s $120M exit of Skinnygirl in 2011 to George Clooney’s $1B exit of Casamigos in 2017, activity has only increased in the space. As manufacturers fight for shelf space and share of wallet, celebrity integration has become a favored tool in the toolkit of breaking through the noise.