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What To Do When A Celeb Uses Your Product: Top Tips From CEO of StubGroup, John Horn

Exposure is everything. The more that people know about your product, the better, naturally. So how do you navigate promoting exposure from celebrities organically finding and using your product? CEO of StubGroup, John Horn, shares his top tips on effectively marketing a celebrity sighting in your product.

First, you have to be careful not to violate their Right of Publicity. Right of Publicity is an intellectual property right that protects against the misappropriation of a person’s name, likeness, or other indicia of personal identities—such as a nickname, pseudonym, voice, signature, likeness, or photograph — for commercial benefit.

Horn is an expert marketeer and advertising guru who has helped clients who work with StubGroup get the maximum benefit from celebrity social shares.

“Our client, KIM+ONO launched as a Chinatown boutique under the name “Old Shanghai” 30 years ago. They expanded from their flagship location in San Francisco and built a thriving eCommerce business, which StubGroup has had the privilege of marketing since 2017,” says Horn.

The Opportunity

Singer/Songwriter Gwen Stefani entered wedded bliss with country music superstar Blake Shelton last year, and the “Hollaback Girl” singer shared highlights of their special day on Instagram.

“One particular highlight, however, caught our attention. It was a boomerang-style Instagram post with Stefani raising her veil over her head in a full smile while wearing a beautiful silk robe with pink peonies on it. Our very own client, KIM+ONO, handcrafted that,” says Horn.

This was a massive opportunity for KIM+ONO, and People Magazine jumped on the post and quickly published an article linking to KIM+ONO’s site so that Stefani fans could check out the stylish robes for themselves.

“We worked closely in tandem with KIM+ONO’s legal team to make sure we didn’t cross any boundaries while also taking advantage of the awesome PR opportunity,” says Horn.

The Brainstorm

As soon as the StubGroup team became aware of Stefani’s post, the team moved into action, developing ideas to capitalize on the media opportunity as quickly as possible for the client.

KIM+ONO’s legal team joined full force as they explored what could and couldn’t be done.

After a deep brainstorming session and hours of work, our team, in collaboration with the legal team at KIM+ONO, came up with five tips on effectively marketing an organic celebrity promotion.

Tip #1: Capitalize on Google Search Traffic

Horn suggests targeting popular Google searches such as “Gwen Stefani robe,” “Gwen Stefani kimono,” etc., to gain traction from fans who wanted to wear what Stefani wore.

“The important question was: What could we legally say in the ad copy? Gwen Stefani didn’t technically endorse the product, so we couldn’t infer that she was endorsing KIM+ONO in our ads. We initially thought about using ad text such as “see the robe Gwen wore,” and after conferring with legal counsel, we decided to play it even safer and not use Gwen’s name in the ad copy,” says Horn.

What the team did do, however, is write compelling ads that pointed traffic directly to the product page for the specific robe that Stefani wore so that people visiting the website knew they were in the right place.

Tip #2: Mention the Post on Product Pages

The StubGroup team considered uploading a video or photo to the KIM+ONO website and their Amazon product pages showing Stefani wearing the robe but eventually decided against doing this because using a celebrity’s likeness without their permission to facilitate sales is a legal no-no.

Idea #3: Engage and Comment on the Social Media Post

The StubGroup team advised KIM+ONO’s social team to use their official Instagram account to comment on Stefani’s post, thanking her for letting them be a small part of her special day. This develops a relationship with the brand and the celebrity in question and enables users to scroll through comments and easily find the company, should they be looking for it.

Idea #4: Share the Post

Horn advised that KIM+ONO share Stefani’s post via their official social pages across all platforms. This created organic visibility and allowed StubGroup to leverage those posts as ads.

The team achieved this via two campaigns across boosted post engagements and conversion-optimized ads.

Tip #5: Boost Any Press

“We tested sending traffic to the People Magazine article that linked back to KIM+ONO’s website. This allowed us to use their credibility while still pointing potential customers to purchase the product,” says Horn.

Overall, Horn and his team of experts advise an effective promotion of a celebrity using your product as soon as the opportunity arises while being sure to avoid violating their Right to Publicity or infer a relationship that doesn’t exist.

That’s why you need sound legal counsel — and an experienced partner such as StubGroup  — to help you make the most of opportunities that come your way.

John Horn, CEO of StubGroup, has spent his professional career focused on creating and delivering a unique, successful product to each client, every time. He spends his days looking for ways to thrive at the cutting edge of the digital advertising world, equipping the team at StubGroup to provide excellent service to every client, and speaking with businesses looking for an effective PPC management solution. 

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