Celebrity PR Blindspot – Product EndorsementsJulia Cotrone
In our new viral age, celebrities and digital influencers have many new opportunities to capitalize on their fame, and often times it just takes one slip to trigger microscopic attention and scrutiny. Their product endorsements have become comparable to a political candidate’s voting record, and they are faced with a new level of accountability they clearly haven’t been prepared for.
A prominent example of this is the Fyre Festival – no amount of money could have been worth the damage it ultimately did to those influencers’ brands when the promise of a luxury music festival turned into outraged fans stranded on an island with none of the promised amenities.
Politicians have the ammo in their playbook to push back – did they sponsor the bill or just vote for it? Did they vote against the bill because there were other harmful items attached to it? But for celebrities, the more famous they are, the more blame they receive – regardless of the level of their involvement in the product. It can hurt their brand and their future ability to land other endorsements or market their talents.
These celebrities and influencers have the ability to use their platforms for good. But how can they tell the difference between a smart move on social media and a bad one? Social media, for the most part, is unchartered territory, and celebrities and influencers are America’s guinea pigs. While some of the very top starts may have teams of publicists to think through these things, many of those who gained their fame through their own content creation on YouTube and Instagram are often woefully unprepared.
Is that diet drink FDA approved? Is that private plane app leaking privacy data to bad actors? Is that sunglass company knocking off American patents?
Before a celebrity puts their name and brand behind something, they should always engage in due diligence by doing the research. They shouldn’t just trust managers who also get a cut of the endorsement. They need to hire experts who know what they don’t know. Being proactive is the best way for influencers in any field to prevent controversy and ensure they’re using their status for good.