Society

Picking right celebrity influencer for a brand

Naomi Campbell Najib Balala

Tourism CS Najib Balala and British model Naomi Campbell in a photo posted by the Ministry of Tourism. PHOTO | COURTESY

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Summary

  • Kenya is not the only country that has resorted to celebrity endorsements. Rwanda is one of the sponsors of English football club, Arsenal.
  • And endorsements don't come cheap, Rwanda forked out $39 million in the Visit Rwanda deal.
  • It isn't clear just how effective the Arsenal sponsorship has been in increasing visitor numbers in Rwanda. 

Last week, British supermodel Naomi Campbell was named Kenya's new tourism ambassador. Her appointment by Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala was met with a lot of criticism with some Kenyans preferring Ms Lupita Nyong’o, a celebrity with Kenyan origins.

I won’t weigh in on the criticism, but her appointment holds some lessons for businesses on innovative marketing and celebrity endorsements.

Ms Campbell's appointment comes at a time when the world is grappling with Covid-19. She is a well known supermodel who has visited Kenya several times in the past.

I want to applaud the Ministry of Tourism for engaging in innovative marketing. Celebrity endorsements such as this one, have been used to promote businesses, nations and even brands. In this case, the appointment seeks to endorse Kenya as an attractive destination. Kenya may tap into Ms Campbell's networks and social standing to attract premium tourists.

Incidentally Madonna, another global celebrity had visited Kenya at the time of the appointment. Ashanti, an American musician was in Kenya months before. It seems that global interest is growing in Kenya as a leading destination.

Kenya is not the only country that has resorted to celebrity endorsements. Rwanda is one of the sponsors of English football club, Arsenal. And endorsements don't come cheap, Rwanda forked out $39 million in the Visit Rwanda deal. It isn't clear just how effective the Arsenal sponsorship has been in increasing visitor numbers in Rwanda. In a study done on tourism management,it was shown that celebrity endorsements are a very good tool in destination marketing.

In Kenya’s case, it is hoped Ms Campbell's fame will direct tourist traffic into Kenya.

Some advantages of celebrity endorsements include building credibility. If Ms Campbell continues to promote Kenya as a destination it is likely that Kenya's credibility as a tourist destination will increase. Some likely targets include other celebrities and fans.

Celebrity endorsements increase the likelihood of opening up new markets. In Naomi's case, her endorsement is likely to open up traffic with other celebrities.

However, there are also several disadvantages of celebrity endorsements. The first is a bad image for the country if the celebrity's image is spoilt. As the celebrity engages in scandals then the country may be dragged into such. It is therefore important to choose your celebrity endorsements with care and diligence.

If your business or brand opts to use celebrity endorsements or social media influencers to market, here are a few tips.

One, choose an influencer who is well aligned to your business goals. If you are a social entrepreneur for example, it would be prudent to choose an influencer with human rights background, for instance. A proper background check ought to be done to avoid person's with too many scandals.You wouldn't want your brand associated with scandals, would you?

You will need to have a contract with them. Issues such as the intellectual property rights need to be discussed. The influencer must adhere to laws on advertisement, consumer laws and avoid misleading advertising. You may need to explain their roles clearly to avoid confusion.

One needs to clarify if the role is exclusive or non-exclusive. Issues of dispute resolution need to be considered to avoid unnecessary litigation.