We saw a massive demonstration of the celebrity-PR effect this week after our current president, Barack Obama, raised the idea of sitting down with newly elected Republican-majority House leaders at a "Slurpee Summit." This followed earlier cracks by Obama that Republicans were standing around drinking Slurpees while Democrats got healthcare reform and other key legislation passed. 

7-Eleven's reaction to the sudden attention our president directed to its humble snowcone-ish product provides a casebook for what to do if your business ever gets anyone famous to mention your product or come to your store.

7-Eleven's moves include:

  • Offer freebies. The chain has offered to cater a Slurpee Summit and deliver both red and blue Slurpees -- or to possibly create a new purple one to symbolize coming together. Such a summit would, of course, only create massive amounts of additional free publicity for Slurpee.
  • Advertise. 7-Eleven is whipping together a national newspaper ad to pick up on the presidential mention.
  • Revisit strategy. This brand just became a star. So 7-Eleven told USA Today it plans to take a new look at Slurpee's positioning. Stay tuned for a new slogan, new packaging -- who knows where it will all end. 
The funny thing is, I was originally planning to write a blog post today about the restaurants overseas that have ridden to success on the fact that President Bill Clinton has eaten there. This coincidence reminded me that there are a million celebrities out there, and every day, they're all doing things -- shopping, dining, using services -- that could give a company a lift, if the celebrity sighting was properly marketed.

One of the restaurants Clinton likes, in New Delhi, India, kept the Clinton buzz going by creating a dish named after their celebrity guest as well as naming a table after him. More great strategies for hanging onto your celebrity connection.

It's a fact -- even brief contact with a celebrity has the power to drive a lot of business your way. And the bigger the celebrity, the bigger the power.

You don't have to wait for a celebrity to come to you, either. Here's a couple of ways you could get a celebrity to interact with your brand and give you a boost:

Actively expose the celebrity to your brand. In a past life, I was a secretary at a big Beverly Hills talent agency, and I can tell you from firsthand experience, companies send celebs swag all the time. They get free purses, chocolates, coupons for free meals, free nights at hotels, you name it. There's little to lose by giving this a try, particularly if you think there's a celebrity who would particularly like what you do or sell.

Ask for an endorsement. You could consider making a celebrity part of your marketing campaign, either paying them or offering them merchandise in trade. D-list celebs often go for the latter.

Think goodie bags. Celebrities attend many events. And at those events, there are often promotional goodie bags. Paying to have your product included in the bags can be a solid way to get your product into celebrities' hands.

Be on the lookout. Alert your staff that you're interested in celebrity sightings. Every person who touches customers -- waitress, sales associate, receptionist -- should be keeping their eyes peeled. If they spot anyone of note, top brass should be immediately notified so they can meet, greet, and offer deals to the celeb to keep them coming back and spreading positive comments.

Broaden your definition of celebrity. Every small town has its own celebrities. In a way, they're almost as big as movie stars, within the confines of your town. Don't just think Britney Spears -- who made the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Beverly Hills very happy with a recent visit, I'm sure. Have a mayor's table, or one for the top lawyers in town who always meet at your place for breakfast on Thursdays. 

Has your business been touched by a celebrity? If so, how did your business capitalize on it? Leave a comment and tell us about it.