Entrepreneur Jackie Fast discusses the people, problems and priorities of those involved in getting a celebrity-brand deal over the line.
Finding the right celebrity to promote and endorse your product is never simple, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. There are so many people involved and, the truth is, it often takes years to reach fruition. In addition to the agents that are heavily involved in the talent and entertainment industry, you can throw in a publicist, lawyer, brand experts and a financial guru, plus others.
In my experience, there is no best way. Everyone works differently and has different motivations and agendas. There is also the matter of trust, which means the entire plot becomes a matrix of connections and relationships. Beyond that you absolutely need to be good at your job. Everyone wants to be associated with experts, as it makes them look good.
Once you have proved that you possess the knowledge, expertise and contacts to deliver, it becomes so much easier to find opportunities and get your foot in the door. And this applies in every industry and sector.
The next hurdle for brands and their ‘celebrity targets’ is to physically get deals agreed, signed and delivered, and this requires a number of people being involved. Here are just some of the individuals who may, or may not, be part of the process.
1 ‘ The Lawyer:
They are well positioned to understand whether a particular deal is right for their client. They tend to have more experience than most other members of the marketing team. However lawyers, for all their attention to detail and legal expertise, rarely understand the marketing value of a deal. So if your proposal leans heavily on we’ll make millions but we aren’t quite there yet, then I’d definitely recommend reaching out to someone else. ‘Jam tomorrow’ is not something that usually excites and motivates lawyers, as they are searching for an outcome more definite and immediate.
2 ‘ The Friend:
These are great, but often don’t go anywhere. Having friends who are connected closely to famous people may be nice, but unless those friends are well respected business people, then deals won’t travel very far.
3 ‘ The Publicist:
More than ever ‘The Publicist’ is becoming involved in the game of equity deals and building brands for their clients. This is usually driven by the client, which is why there isn’t often a lot of foresight with regards to the brands in question. However, ‘The Publicist’ usually sees beyond dollar signs and will understand how a partnership could benefit all concerned. If your deal provides great brand exposure or a shift in demographic positioning, then ‘The Publicist’ is a great route to take.
4 ‘ The Talent Agent:
Historically, these were the people that prevented many great brand equity deals from happening ‘ and simply because they wanted cash up front. Mind you, this isn’t their fault. It’s how their business is set up, with commissions being their sole avenue for revenue. Let’s face it, no one wants to sleep on a friend’s couch in lieu of a payment which may, or may not, occur in five years’ time. However, in the last few years, talent agents are finally starting to realise that equity can be more rewarding than cash. But these are usually agents who are already financially sound, and won’t be living hand to mouth if success fails to materialise in five years’ time. Therefore, they are in a position to take a few more risks.
5 ‘ Direct:
I often speak to brand bosses who already have celebrity friends, and have close relationships with agents and legal representatives too. Yet, they almost never want to approach them to do brand deals. Brand bosses and owners are often fairly reticent about asking friends and family for investment in exchange for equity. I think entrepreneurs are usually the same. But if you can’t ask your friends and family to help you out, then maybe you don’t have a very enticing business proposition in the first place.
Let me make it clear, the above is not a finite list of people involved in the process of creating a deal. Yet people, more and more, are on the hunt for great opportunities, which makes it an extremely cluttered market. As the process can be quite time consuming, you need to know where to start. It’s so important not to waste hours with people who have no intention of moving your idea forwards. It’s a minefield, and always will be. It’s all about who you know, and what they know, to take your idea in the right direction.