How to implement a campaign with a celebrity or influencer (6 tips)

An insight by Michael MacRitchie

Dear Brands,

Celebrities & KOLS bring visibility, credibility and attract more media attention to public relations, advertising and marketing campaigns because of who they are. Contacting, negotiating and working with celebrities, however, can require critical research and an in-depth understanding of the consumer/brand/celebrity perspectives in order to maximize the potential celebrity partnership. 

Here are some tips to and also some guidelines that are helpful in mapping out a solid partnership.

Gal Gadot & Grazia China

1) A proper negotiation takes time. YES. MGI is always available for exciting projects ad has performed miracles in the past by working 24/7 to get a result with a very short window, but we are at the stage of the business where we prefer not to have  “can you be here tomorrow?!” calls.

When looking at working with a celebrity, implement a KOL plan or work with an international music artist. Please don’t drag the negotiation out in the hope that it will lower the price or advance terms. The exact opposite happens. It can also end in disaster.

If you want to work with an international music artists for an example please don’t wait till 4 weeks out to pull the trigger. Getting performance permits requires that period of time and also please understand that when you wait to the last minute. Problems occur.

Ming Xi & Chanel

KOLS in the China market are very good at selling and marketing products but AGAIN, please don’t wait till the last minute to pull the trigger you will lose momentum, potentially lose the artist or create a much more expensive scenario for having to pay lots of additional (unforeseen costs to execute) More importantly when you wait and leave everything to the last minute. Your campaign/launch/event will seem disorganised.

Negotiation takes some time.

Becky Li & Mini Cooper

2) Do these celebrities effectively communicate brand intrinsics (e.g., trust, commitment)? Before you ask a celebrity to participate in a project, PR/advertising/marketing campaign, or special event, ask yourself this question: “ Is this something that matches their brand personality?  An article on brand personality can be found here that explores this…

Do these celebrities establish an emotional connection with consumers?  We buy based on emotion. It is important that the celeb creates the right feel/look/tone and is simultaneously an extension of the brand or an aspirational extension of the brand.

Sunny Wang & Zegna

3)  Making sure the Celeb and Brand are the right fit. Celebs are bombarded with so many opportunities that they need to pick and choose their projects very carefully…

You might be passionate about your project, it might be the launch of new champagne brand, which sounds wonderful  but the celeb has had a history of any alcohol problems in the family this obviously won’t be a good fit. I remember a client of mine (liquor brand) wanted to sponsor a potential Bon Jovi tour but 2 of the band members were recovering alcoholics.

Angelababy & Tag Heuer

4) Anticipate budgets: Many clients are surprised at how much they will need to budget for a campaign, but for a multi-tiered campaign there is usually a lot of time involved between preparation, media interviews and events. Also, in many cases the celebrities will need to travel, so consider extras such as flights, meals, hotel, on-the-ground transportation and special requests. Before you present budget parameters, think through all the possible expenses, including a little negotiating cushion!

Kris Wu & McDonald’s

5) Coming to terms. Once a celeb has agreed to participate, make a list of absolutely everything he or she might want to know and do—This should be detailed, encompassing and comprehensive. Celebrities and their representatives will need you to be extremely specific from the start. If people around the deal do not have all the details ironed out from the beginning things can go very wrong. Need to consider all elements including security, accommodation, production, venue hire, direction… There needs to be an itemized budget set aside and all parties are aware of every single cost, every single detail. If every single item is not considered then who pays for the security? Venue? It can get messy if not clear from the beginning.

Mr. Bags & Montblanc


6) Respect Their Time. Time is a celebrity’s most valuable commodity; don’t waste it. There are so many people wanting some of the celebrity’s time, they have to ensure that the time they do give you is time well spent. So, ask for the least amount of time that will fill your needs.

If you stick to these basic principles you are well on your way to creating a rewarding and successful partnership.

Chris Lee & Gucci