An insight by Michael MacRitchie
Would you ask your accountant to perform legal work? Would you ask your lawyer to perform dental procedures? The answer is obviously “no”. You work with specialists to execute specialist tasks….
Every agency can do anything their client asks right? Most agencies will try and get as much work out of their client as possible – it’s logical… isn’t it?
But is the client getting the best work? And what about that old school thought of being really great at what you do?
Every agency tries to increase their “scope” with their clients. Adding more services they can offer once they get a hook into a client.
In every field of professional services it makes sense to only work with specialists. Working with celebrities and campaigns is no different.
A specialist is often needed to maximize celebrity driven campaigns. Working with celebrities, musicians or sports figures for an integrated ad campaign can be difficult….There is heavy emphasis on finding the right talent and negotiating the contract can be very time consuming as well as frustrating. The real challenge arises when the contract is signed where a lot can go wrong. Trust me- I have seen it happen and these scenarios can be very sensitive and the key is to recover, make it work and never make the same mistakes.
To look at this and gain some perspective- it is helpful to observe how celebrity ad campaigns have evolved over time.
20 years ago
Twenty years ago, advertising agencies and public relations’ firms had their ‘turf’. Public Relations’ firms were like the newly adopted child at a family reunion. This rivalry at this point had given rise to competitive turf battles, i.e.) We have witnessed different celebrities being hired for the same brand. One celebrity selected by the brand’s advertising agency and another celebrity by it’s PR firm. As you can imagine, this causes confusion. Using a celebrity endorsement is supposed to fortify that celebrity as the only face for that brand, not confuse people.
Over the past decade, agencies and PR firms learnt how to integrate with each other and work cooperatively, to effectively find the best celebrity possible for the brand. The benefits of the actual harmonious work of the ad agencies and the PR firms, showed clear impressive results compared to twenty years ago. They had finally managed to create, produce and maintain a much more consistent message. However while brands depended upon the agencies for the selection process, necessities like negotiating a celebrity’s contract, was a stretch out of their comfort zone. Brands did indeed handle this responsibility however they lacked the expertise to negotiate the best deal based on fair market value, resulting in them overpaying their talent quite significantly.
Companies now are seeking to attain a celebrity agency for their integrated agency team, so they can provide specialization in the areas consisting of strategy, talent identification, contract negotiations and celebrity management. Selecting the right celebrity for the brand’s campaign is one of the most crucial factors in a marketing campaign. If done incorrectly, the effects of selecting a celebrity whose personality, image and message doesn’t relate to the brand at all, can viscously corrode a companies branding campaign.
I am a specialist evangelist. I’m unashamedly biased on using specialists – MGI is a celebrity sourcing specialist agency. We research, recommend, negotiate, contract and deliver local and international celebrities for clients and campaigns.
We often come up against PR, media and creative agencies all claiming to the client they can get a celebrity for a particular campaign, rather than using the expert in the field – us.
So it got me thinking- what do we do as specialists have, that makes us a much better bet for clients, and what do other specialists (like media, PR , creative etc) have in common?
Here is my list that specialists have in common;
- Contacts, relationships and experience make a lot of difference in every field. It’s who you know, and how well you know them that gives you deep understanding in your field.
- They know a good deal and how hard to push. Anyone can go to a network and buy media, but the specialist who do it every day know what deals can be done, they know what the rates really are, what supply and demand is like and getting a fair deal that is going to work for both sides. They understand the market. In our world we see so many PR and creative agencies paying way over the odds for their celebrities – the rate card or an inflated price because they think that is what you must have to pay – generally it’s not – and knowing what a celebrity is worth, previous deal rates and what you can get it for comes down to history and specialist expertise.
- As mentioned-Specialists have made all the mistakes so you don’t have to. You know the first few hundred times you do something you are learning on the job – as a client you don’t want to be educating your agency on how to a job they are not skilled in. Using a specialist means they have been there, done that – not going there, learning that. The market is ever changing and the demands and inclusions on celebrity contracts are all key factors in negotiating a strong deal for all parties.
- Specialists will actually do a better job. Use an expert rather than someone who thinks they are, and you will get a better job. In our world that means the right celebrity, delivered with minimum stress, on budget and with a great result.