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Wax Marketing Blog

Hiring your first celebrity spokesperson

celebrity spokespersonI’ve worked with a fair number of famous people, from Ralph Nader to guys from Duck Dynasty. Although it’s really not in my wheelhouse anymore I sometimes still get calls to find out how much it would cost for a celebrity to attend their event, endorse their product or contribute to their non-profit cause.   No matter how great your product , or how important your cause, stars generally don’t do anything for free unless its for their own foundation (or for George Clooney). The good news is that almost any celebrity can  be booked if you have enough money. Here are a few tips for figuring out how to find someone, how much they cost and what the process might be like.

  • Find out who represents them. The easiest way is to buy a subscription to Who Represents an online listing of virtually every celebrity agent, publicist and manager.  Although some people like to go through managers first, I always call the agent. Agents are usually straightforward, no BS types who will give you prices and explain the ins and outs of back-end deals and endorsements.
  • Know your budget. Have a good idea of how much  you have to spend before you make the call. Do your homework or you’ll get blown off pretty quickly. Don’t call asking for Brooke Shields if you’ve got $5000. Stars not only require fees, they also require first class airfare, accommodations and drivers.  I priced former Vice President Al Gore once…he was $300,000 for two hours. The client assumed with such a hefty fee that Mr. Gore would stay for dinner  after his appearance. Not so. Like any celebrity, Mr. Gore was only going to show up for his scheduled appearance. Expect to pay anywhere from $5000 for a local celebrity to $25,000 and up for a two hour appearance from a B-lister, like a reality TV star or athlete from a niche sport.  For A-listers, expect prices to start well into six figures for an appearance and for endorsements be ready to talk about upfront fees, and a portion of the back end.
  • Make sure your brand aligns with the celebrity. Their personal brand image is just as important as your product brand image. I pitched a deal recently for a company that needed a senior spokesperson with credibility and a trustworthy image. No offense, Warren Beatty, but we’re going to look at folks like Bob Newhart and Betty White.
  • Get to the point when talking to reps. Don’t spend a lot of time introducing your company or product, and please don’t rattle on about how much you love “so and so’s last movie.” Be quick about it. A few years ago I got Mark Ervin at IMG on the phone to find out how much Shaun White would cost for an autograph signing.  Although I expected to get Mr. Ervin’s assistant rather than the legendary agent himself, I made sure I was to the point. I got all the information I needed. (By the way, thank you for your graciousness, Mr. Ervin) I got comedian Kathy Griffin’s agent on the phone once and because I wasn’t wasting his time with unnecessary information, this agent actually spent 30 minutes explaining how typical back-end and licensing deals worked for stars like Ms. Griffin.  He also helped me get to some celebrities that were closer to my client’s price range and when I dropped his name I got immediate attention!
  • Be patient with the contract process and make sure you understand everything. Most agents are also attorneys and can and should take time to explain every clause thoroughly .  It may take some time and you’ll have to work out details that can seem very nit-picky and even annoying. But remember, if at any time a celebrity rep feels you won’t be treating this person like royalty, you’re done. Accommodate any requests as much as you can and it will make a world of difference. Don’t haggle over something that may cost a couple hundred extra dollars.
  • Spoil your talent. Once the contract is finalized, remember that a happy celeb will do a much better job for you. Investigate hotel rooms, plan secure exits, find out the celeb’s meal preferences, and make sure their favorite brand of water is readily available. I’ve done anything from making sure the New York Times is in their room every day (and we were in Iowa) to finding out what their favorite M&M’s were, and leaving a stash in their room. You’ve got to have every step of a celebrity’s experience planned out and managed to perfection. It’s always a good idea to hire an experienced publicist or talent coordinator to make sure everything runs smoothly.  (If you’re not sure who to use, call a local publisher. They’ll know who the best folks are.)
  • Negotiate the public relations side of things. Don’t assume you can do as much PR as you want. Have the interviews and any possible media worked out ahead of time. There’s nothing worse than having a reporter show up that doesn’t get a chance to sit down with the star. Again, this is why an experienced publicist can be so helpful and worth every penny.

Getting the right celebrity can be a huge boost for your product or service but be aware of how much time and money you’ll spend to make it work. I would love comments about celebrity appearances you’ve hosted – nightmare stories are always fun but we can always learn more from what you did right!

 

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26 Comments

  1. Norfolk Home
    Posted on February 22, 2010 at 6:58 am

    Interesting article, I really like your writing style, keep up the good work 🙂

  2. Harvz Says :
    Posted on February 23, 2010 at 2:32 am

    though it wont be cheap

  3. gabriel cunha
    Posted on February 23, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    MOney Talks!

  4. nakis Says :
    Posted on February 23, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    A great article. Keep up the great work.Real good writing style

  5. Web Content Writers Says :
    Posted on February 24, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Amazing article! Thanks for writing this. It really gives me an idea as to how much star appearance really costs. With that hefty amounts, small companies would have to make even bigger investment for their product. But it’ll be great having stars in a product launch, isn’t it?

    • waxmarketing Says :
      Posted on February 24, 2010 at 6:20 pm

      I worked with a small ski shop that used their entire year’s marketing budget to bring in Bode Miller for an autograph signing to celebrate the opening. Was a huge gamble but it worked.

  6. Self Service SEO Says :
    Posted on February 24, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Good article. In the past we have thought about hiring a spokesperson but as of yet have not. YOu have given us a lot to think about.

  7. USA Finder
    Posted on February 25, 2010 at 2:48 am

    I really enjoyed your article, and I really like your writing style.

  8. Marketing and PR Efforts: Celebrities and Charitable Causes | Business Training.com
    Posted on March 1, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    […] Harris writes for the Wax Marketing blog on marketing and PR. The following is one of her […]

  9. Sweet Sam Says :
    Posted on March 15, 2010 at 1:07 am

    hi It really gives me an idea as to how much star appearance really costs. thanks for sharing.

  10. blogiskewl
    Posted on March 26, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Hi, I recently started a bloghosting platform (based on wordpress MU) and when I stumbled your blog I paid attention to your theme (looking good) so I was wondering can you tell me is it custom made theme or one of those free ones? thanks in advance! regards, blogiskewl

  11. Kids Rolling Suitcase Says :
    Posted on May 19, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    WOW!! $300,000 for two hours, that is absolutely amazing. I know he was the VP of the unites states, but that is almost an unfathomable amount of money for 2 hours. When you say $5000 dollars for a local celebrity, would that be like a local newscaster or talk radio host?

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on May 20, 2010 at 6:15 am

      Yeah, $300K PLUS first class expenses for his advance staff, and for his traveling staff. It was pricey! Local celebs could be sports athletes (not the huge ones of course), models or actors who live in town, it could be talk show hosts but I have a feeling they would work for less and could have conflicts with their own stations. Chefs, motivational speakers, etc could all be local and of use to you as a spokesperson.

  12. Kids Rolling Suitcase Says :
    Posted on May 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    That really is unbelievable. I would imagine the only places that could afford that would be a major corporation or something. Although, if I was a shareholder in a corporation that paid that much form someone to show up for an appearance or something I think I would be pretty upset, they would really have to justify the cost/benefit.

  13. lirik lagu Says :
    Posted on June 19, 2010 at 10:07 am

    nice post..thanks for the great sharing.

  14. Mark @ Bridal Shower Registry
    Posted on July 3, 2010 at 3:12 am

    Wow! Those prices you mentioned are way higher than I would have expected.

  15. homes foreclosed las vegas
    Posted on July 13, 2010 at 1:39 am

    nice article – this would be really helpful to people who want to hire an effective agent to sell or promote a product and the like.

  16. IT
    Posted on July 30, 2010 at 7:55 am

    To hire a celebrity indeed is a perfect solution. But you should have a very successful business to afford such luxury.

  17. meaning of dreams
    Posted on August 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    That’s a nice information. Many thanks!! I’ll try it, dude..
    Excellent tips.!!.nice information. It;s help me up..!!

  18. web development Says :
    Posted on December 7, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Good points there, thank you! Celebrity marketing is very effective, especially in the sports and fashion business.
    Often a marketing strategy starts by selecting the celebrity the team will work with and then an idea is built around that choice. This method is backwards and results in marketing that lacks strategic vision and often fails to resonate. To do better, you need to have a strong creative idea…then find the celebrity that best fits that idea.

  19. Plumber Bedfordshire
    Posted on January 5, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Nice way to guide.

  20. Jaan
    Posted on March 2, 2012 at 5:45 am

    This is a great job for submitting such articles thanks.Thank you for a great time viewing your website. It’s truly a pleasure knowing a site like this packed with excellent information.

  21. Scott Hill
    Posted on December 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for the article. It’s very helpful. Celebrity endorsements are also popular and may be a lot less work. They aren’t cheap either and can range from $1,000 to $15,000 for just a twitter mention!

  22. Ralph
    Posted on July 22, 2013 at 2:02 am

    I have been booking celebs in LA for almost 20 years now and have ran into our fair share of problems with these people not sticking to agreements and contracts or sometimes not even showing up for these paid appearances. Over the past few years or so I have been working with a booking company called eMerge Sports & Entertainment who have been nothing but the best. Not 1 problem, ever. They do free PR as part of booking their clients, free social media posts from their clients, straight to the point and not hiding things but the biggest reason I keep going back to them is because of their pricing. They literally are sometime 40% cheaper than going through the celebs agents. They are big in the industry and are able to get this pricing because of the great contacts and name they have in the business. The first problem with these celebs is the celebs not sticking to agreements but the last thing you ant is a bad boking company not on your side, that is why we use eMerge, they are by far the best I have worked with in my years. Here is the site for anyone interested: http://www.eMergeSE.com -Ralph Breck

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