Launching a New Brand Using Celebrities

Jomo Sono
Using celebrities to launch a product works if the particular product is in their area of expertise. For instance, it makes sense for a famous soccer star to endorse a pair of soccer boots or energy products. Jomo Sono, the king of soccer, has a soccer boot named after him, ‘Puma Jomo Sono‘ (the applies for the legendary Pele). Puma Jomo Sono has been on the market for years. Do you think the Jomo Sono brand would work if it had been extended to jeans and shirts? I doubt it. Doctor “16V” Khumalo had a clothing label named after him. It was called 16V. At first it sold well. But within a short period of time there was no trace of the label in stores.

Futhermore, celebrities are expensive and their credibility can be questionable. (Tiger Woods, Suarez, Lance Armstrong etc).

Celebrities are in the public eye. When they falter, the public is quick to know about it. And that affects your brand.

Mzwakhe Mbuli, the famous people’s poet, was endorsing Metrorail when he was arrested for a bank robbery. The commercials were changed. Months after he had been convicted, I was watching a soccer game on television with a group of guys. When a new Metrorail commercial came on, one of the guys asked, “Shame, I wonder how Mzwakhe is doing in prison.”

Consumers are discovering the tricks of the marketing world. They know that people are paid to endorse products. Some celebrities endorse too many products to be credible.

Ordinary people with character launch brands better. They are believable.

Fresca, a cold-drink, was launched using Hakeem Kae-Kazim, who was virtually unknown in South Africa at the time. Omo uses ordinary housewives. Old Mutual uses ordinary policy-holders. YFM launched with no famous DJs and still beat the star-studded Kaya FM. These advertisements work because they are credible.

Ordinary people ad the most important thing to your brand-credibility.

Adapted from Muzi Kuzwayo’s Marketing Through Mud and Dust

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