It’s every business’s dream to land a collaboration with a high-profile, well-loved celebrity. In fact, many businesses pay millions of dollars for such endorsements. There are the outliers, of course, like Pop Chips. They earned promotion and marketing material from Katy Perry after she tweeted out how much she loved the snack.
Organic celebrity discovery and endorsement is one of the few things left in business that’s truly priceless. After all, millennials are the first consumer group younger than the internet, and as such, they are exceedingly banner blind. In fact, nearly two in three of them use an ad blocker online.
This is a generation that has grown up with online ads, and they’ve learned that if they tell a brand or all of their friends on social media that they don’t like said ad, that brand will react. Millennials are used to being involved and having a voice. And using celebrities to help a brand bridge the gap between millennial perception of a business and actually getting that consumer group to participate has very real benefits.
The key, though, is to be authentic. The reason being is that 43 percent of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news, which is why many of them prefer blogs over media conglomerates. So, we aren’t talking about using Britney Spears in a Pepsi commercial ala the early 2000s. No, brands and their celebrity endorsers need to be aligned. Think Lebron James and Nike or Nicki Minaj and Beats.
Big brands have the cash flow to pay for these celebrity endorsements and the subsequent benefits. Small, growing brands, though, have no such budget. For them, a celebrity endorsement is more luck of the draw than strategy. But, what if your brand does hit the jackpot? What if a high-profile, well-loved celebrity is suddenly sporting your goods? How do you make the most out of that authentic -- and exciting -- use of your product?
Well, it isn’t so simple -- and this is the point where a smaller brand’s strategy must come into play. After all, even the big guys get it wrong. Remember when Katherine Heigl sued Duane Reade? A small business doesn’t have the $6 million to forfeit to cover those legal fees.
For online store Flash Tattoos, the celebrity jackpot moment became very real, very quickly. Flash Tattoos sells temporary tattoos that cater to a trendy, fashionable crowd. These aren’t your typical dolphin or Disney princess temporary tattoos. No -- these are gold or silver and made in designs that often mimic textile and jewelry patterns from the runway.
A photo posted by Flash Tattoos (@flashtattoos) on Nov 4, 2015 at 7:54am PST
Given the product, the Flash Tattoos team aligned their marketing strategy to the popularity of festivals in the U.S., setting up pop-up shops at Lollapalooza, Coachella and Bonnaroo. Among with the 32 million people who attend music festivals like these each year are celebrities. One in particular found her way to a Flash Tattoos pop-up, bought a sheet of the temporary tattoos, wore them, took pictures and then posted those on Instagram.
Beyoncé was now Flash Tattoos’ most famous customer.
A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Sep 2, 2014 at 7:05pm PDT
For Flash Tattoos, this was the jackpot moment. Its next steps, though, needed to be strategic.
The team quickly responded and reached out, and then began sending Beyoncé samples of tattoos. And the more they sent, the more she wore. Little less than a year into the first spotting of Beyoncé's Flash Tattoos love, her team reached out to talk to the company about a potential collaboration.
Not ones to say no –-- as if anyone would to Queen Bey herself -- a nine-month long collaboration process began. For the Flash Tattoos team, the long design process put time on their side. They needed a campaign strategy. They needed this to be big. They had to be smart. This was their chance.
For an online store, however, there’s a lot more to think through than simple marketing. Inventory and site-load capabilities are equally important if you want people to actually be able to purchase items from your campaign. So, the strategy was dual-sided: Ride the coattails of Beyoncé's fame, and her ability to turn anything she touches into gold, and ensure that the backend of the site was optimized so that when all the new consumers came in, the brand could turn as many of them as possible into repeat customers, boosting brand awareness and revenue for the long-haul.
The collaboration hashtag was easy: #BeyonceXFlashTattoos. Then, the team worked to predict, as best they could, the inventory needed to support the campaign by reviewing past sales data.
For the site experience, Flash Tattoos knows full and well that any delay in page load time can cause a lost sale. In fact, experts recommend lowering site load time to three seconds or less. After all, online shoppers aren’t the most patient bunch, and new studies are showing that thanks to the rise of technology and the plethora of options available to all of us, our attention spans are now shorter than that of a goldfish.
To speed up page load time, especially during a high traffic period, the Flash Tattoos team increased server bandwidth and streamlined photo-sizes across their site prior to launch. They also worked with Bigcommerce, Flash Tattoos’ ecommerce platform provider, requesting 24/7 site monitoring during the campaign because of the swell of traffic expected.
Thanks to promotion from Beyoncé, the Flash Tattoos team, fans using the #BeyonceXFlashTattoos hashtag, and the plethora of media that covered the news, the campaign generated 10 times the normal traffic to the Flash Tattoos site during the peak hours -- and the team saw total orders double. There were no outages on the site. Page-load times held steady. And now, the Flash Tattoos team is well on their way to brand-name status.
For other brands looking to replicate Flash Tattoos’ success, or who are new to partnerships and collaborations, here are a few helpful tips to keep you sane during this process.
- Start early: It’s never too soon to reach out to an influencer you want to work with and start brainstorming ways you could collaborate.
- Plan for the best, and be prepared for the worst: It’s inevitable that problems or delays will arise at some point during the process. Just stay positive, come up with creative solutions and keep chugging along. All those exhausting late nights are worth it in the end.
- Be flexible! Plans can change, and rules can bend: Just keep an open mind, and be able to jump on a moment’s notice. You never know what can change in a day.
In all, celebrity collaborations are high-stakes initiatives for online businesses, especially those at that pivotal growth stage, where any small misstep can suddenly halt that hockey stick growth. Thoughtful governance around site maintenance for unusually high traffic is absolutely necessary to ensure all of your public-facing work pays off.
Oh, and get someone one your team to follow any brand-relevant celebrities on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and anywhere they can. Doing so might just help you find the authentic celebrity voice which will shine the spotlight right on your brand.