Marketing Strategy

28th September 2016

The Cessation of Celebrity Super Brands

by Chris Nelson, Marketing Executive

Image: Twocoms / Shutterstock.com

The Beckhams. Beyonce & Jay Z. Kim & Kanye. The Clooney’s. The Obama’s. The Clintons. All these couples have three things in common. Power, influence and incomparable brands. But what do they do when these brands fall apart and are no longer? With an inability to escape the media spotlight, those that were once a two-piece now have to figure out how to go it alone. How do they build themselves as a valuable brand in their own right?

Celebrities on their own are one thing. Putting two together puts both their celebrity status and their brand on a whole other level. These couples have worked hard and fought hard to build and sustain their Celebrity Super-Couple Brands to a point where us “normal” human beings can’t actually remember them as individuals. Whether we like, respect and admire these couples or not, we cannot refrain from admitting to, and recognising, their tenacious capabilities of building themselves into brands that can stand alongside some of the biggest corporate brands in the world both in terms of monetary value and consumer influence.

However, these celebrity brands have one more thing in common. They are not, as much as we or they may think, invincible.

They are normal human beings, just like you and I, even though we may see and perceive them as robotic conceptions of an idealised lifestyle and way of being. They make mistakes. They make bad decisions and, even more so than corporate brands, their consumer and peer perceptions are in the hands of their worst (and sometimes best) enemy. The media.

Their celebrity status and personas are inevitably controlled not by themselves, their management or their publicists but by the actions that are captured by the media.

This year we have seen the split of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard and most recently Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (formerly known as Brangelina). Both of these splits haven’t been as plain sailing as one would hope. Both splits were/are engulfed in accusations and investigations of domestic and substance abuse. However, this is something for their publicists to manage for the time being…! My question is, what next??

The“Brangelina” brand has been built and sustained over the past 12 years after the actor split from his previous Hollywood Super-brand co-star Jennifer Aniston. But what now? Can they, and how will they go it alone? With both still in the prime of their careers how do both Pitt & Jolie create, build and sustain brands of their own individual prominence?

Successful branding is a strategically created expectation in the mind of the target audience. Personal branding is the process by which you carefully manage how you, as well as the brand you are building is perceived. The success of your personal brand reminds the audience of your uniqueness and your value. It stems from the tone, image, philosophical position, approach and experience that the individual projects which defines the success of your personal brand.

angelina_jolie_at_the_launch_of_the_uk_initiative_on_preventing_sexual_violence_in_conflict_29_may_2012

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

It is clear that Jolie already has her own foundations to build upon with her ambassadorial positions with the United Nations and her efforts in raising awareness of, and combatting sexual violence in armed conflict, the refugee crisis and generally protecting and defending the worlds innocents. It could be speculated that Jolie had already started building her own brand long before the demise of her relationship with Pitt.

 

 

And as for Jennifer Aniston after her fairy tale marriage to Pitt, Aniston did what most Hollywood personalities and their publicists would run a mile from. She allowed herself to be human. She showed her hurt, she showed her grief. A brilliantly thought out strategic plan or just a subconscious happening? One or the other, this quickly cemented Anniston into the brand that she is today. She became relatable to the many other women whom have gone through similar heartache. She became an icon of a generation.   

 

 

The development of a personal brand may either be a conscious or a subconscious effort for the individual depending on their innate personalities, ethics and lifestyle choices. Aniston has always been the “girl next door” type which has aided in her career both on and off screen. Her actions and choices of acting roles and brand endorsements have all been in line with her personal brand. It is highly unlikely that we would see her endorsing the likes of Mac Cosmetics or EasyJet…. they’re not quite in line with the classy, sophisticated, girl next door persona she has come to portray.

 

A photo posted by smartwater (@smartwater) on

 

Although Pitt successfully, formed a new Hollywood super-brand through his relationship with Jolie, can he do it again, this time on his own?

At the end of the day, a brand is created to achieve greater equity than competitors in order to increase the value of a product and inevitably increase revenue. This is no different for personal brands. Although, already worth more than any of us could imagine, it is still part of human nature, even more so in the 21st Century and even for the likes of Pitt, to want to acquire more. Not necessarily for monetary gain but out of desire for increased status.

Now Mr Pitt, obviously you’ll be reading this, in your plaid pj’s, sitting in front of the fire with a good cuppa old English tea in hand so here’s my 10 tips on moving away from Brangelina and back to ‘Brad Pitt’:

1. You’ve been surrendered to the Brangelina umbrella for far too long. But, who are you? Are you really the other half of Brangelina or was that just a jigsaw piece which was forced into a place it didn’t fit by certain individuals around you? You were once the cheeky, bad boy of Hollywood whom every girl wanted to be with and whom every guy wanted to be. Who are you now? Unless you know, then neither do we…nor do the directors or corporate brands who are gonna pay you the big bucks. Find that USP again…

2. Leverage who you know…Associations… George Clooney’s marriage to Amal have stepped up the Clooney brand from a Hollywood icon to an International brand through the amalgamation of his Hollywood status and her International appeal and associations….Mingle Brad. It might just do you some good to spend time with these two.

3. Define YOU! Your USP will separate you from the younger Hollywood actors but defining who you are, what you care about and how you want to be known will step up your brand and lay the foundations for what you do next.

4. Make the media your friend again. They’re either going to be your demise or your saving grace. Take your pick.

5. Listen to and embrace your fans. Not just the adorning girls (and boys) but your peers both past and present who know you, and respect you as an actor, and a person. Your engagement and connection with these will not only increase your brand awareness but will also aid in helping you define who you are as a brand.

6. Following on from no 5…Social Media can be a wonderful thing but it can also be a downfall. Use it wisely! (One of our social media experts will throw together a guide just for you…or just give us a shout. We’d be happy to chat over a coffee).

7. Make sure you have a good publicist…no more to be said on this one.

8. Be selective. Everything you do will be reflective of your brand and have some form of an impact. An event you attend. An acting job you take. A product you endorse. Ensure these are in line with your personal brands ethos and positioning. Endorse a product you believe in and us normal folk will believe it. Endorse a product just for the money, we won’t be impressed.

9. Own yourself! Controversy. Haters. Rejection. Negative Opinions. These are all part in parcel with celebrity status. However, it is how you deal with them, by being confident, believing in yourself and sticking to your brands purpose, ethos and values which will turn you into a competitive force.

10. Be BOLD! Step outside your comfort zone, take risks which are not expected of you. You won’t please everyone but those you do please will stick with you and build your brand alongside you.

So that’s it Mr Pitt. Who? What? Why? How? The four simplest questions to creating your brands USP, purpose, ethos, values, proposition and your position.   Use them wisely…or just give me a call and I’ll help you out. Honestly. I don’t mind!

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Chris Nelson, Marketing Executive

The Cessation of Celebrity Super Brands

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