One-click celebrity endorsements!

Paul Raven @ 21-10-2009

As much as I have high hopes for the future, sometimes it seems that “the future” is just a place where you can buy a wider and weirder range of things more quickly and conveniently than before. This doesn’t just apply to us consumer types, either; the mechanics of business are being shortened and tightened and streamlined constantly. Speed is everything. We need it yesterday!

So, you’re building a new model of car (or cooker, or genetically modified guard-armadillo), and you need to get some instant credibility for it before your product launch next week. You need a celebrity endorsement, stat! But don’t they take ages to arrange? Not any more…

Brand Affinity’s goal is to automate the process by which marketers offer contracts to athletes, along with the process by which ads featuring those endorsers are created and produced. The Web site promises that those transactions will take no more than 96 hours.

It provides “a quick turnaround for something that would normally take months,” Mr. Brees said. “A company can contact a player, come to an agreement and the next day the ads could be up.”

That fast pace, said Brian Bos, senior vice president and convergence director at Team Detroit — the alliance of WPP agencies that work for Ford Motor — “reduces risk and provides flexibility, because you’re not tied into long-term deals.”

[…]

Athletes are “human capital brands,” said Ryan Steelberg, president and chief executive at Brand Affinity in Irvine, Calif., who share in an estimated $3 billion paid each year to celebrity endorsers.

Although “the days of someone right out of the draft getting a multimillion-dollar shoe deal are over,” Mr. Steelberg said, large sums are being spent on the handful of big sports names, active and retired, who appear in multiple campaigns.

“Relative to the cost of the superstars, you could potentially activate 5, 10, 25” players who are popular in local or regional markets, he added.

Now, that’s a strong modern business model right there. You’re trading in the currency of celebrity, which (sadly) shows little sign of decaying in perceived value, despite being based on a nebulous social concept whose hollowness is revealed on a daily basis; you’re using the web for swift brokerage and expediting; you’re offering a national service tailored to localised needs. You’ve bolted yourself as middleman onto the Long Tail of celebrity. [via TechDirt]

As pointed out in the article there, the biggest plus point of Brand Affinity’s service is its fine-grain duration scale. No need to risk a lot of money and kudos on a season-long campaign with a particular jock or clothes-horse; keep an eye on trending topics for rising names, jump on ’em when they’ve got enough cachet to give your product a boost, and drop ’em like a hot potato when their star slips out of the ascendant. In a world where fame burns brighter for ever shorter periods of time, that’s a system with a lot of appeal for the marketing and branding wonks… the sort of thing Leggy Starlitz might have stumbled into had he spent longer in the States, perhaps.