From a sublimely louche dance sequence in an abandoned London cinema to a moonlit martial arts epic scaling the rooftops of the Forbidden City, male stars have super-powered brands in myriad ways throughout 2014.
Timberlake gives tequila a shot
The year got underway with Justin Timberlake’s co-branded partnership with Sauza 901 tequila. With Beam as Sauza’s owner, the brand has global reach as does its creative partner and ‘founder’, the considerably networked Justin Timberlake. While eschewing a ‘trackvertising’ tactic in this instance, Timberlake’s ‘The 20/20 Experience’ world tour will provide a very handy platform for Sauza with strong bar presence for the tequila brand across the globe at every one of his shows.
Brand/artist partnerships have become increasingly popular over the past five years, with celebrities now often assuming the role of collaborators and creative directors (think Will.i.am for Intel, Lady Gaga for Polaroid, Alicia Keys for Blackberry and Beyonce for Pepsi).
While celebrities and their fans often think of advertising as a cop out, no such stigma exists with the creative partnership, which is seen as a case of buying in rather than selling out.
Jude Law dances up a storm for Johnnie Walker
Beyond Law’s impressive display of talents, there’s more to the story of Johnnie Walker’s long ad/short film Gentleman’s Wager than first meets the eye. It revolves around Law’s character attempting to win a rare luxury yacht by learning a number of new skills including an elaborately choreographed dance and piano playing, both of which Law had to learn for the role. Because the film is actually about improvement and progress, that in turn hints at the care and craftsmanship that sits behind any show of excellence, whether it be on the dance floor or Johnnie Walker on the rocks.
Automotive, fragrance and jewellery brands are no strangers to short films as branded entertainment. With the addition of celebrity star power, the endorsement by Law has resulted in Johnnie Walker receiving more attention than it has for over a decade. 11 million plus YouTube views helped step things up too. Keep walking Johnnie. Keep dancing Jude.
Mr Bean bags it for Snickers
If there’s one brand that could be said to be powered by the stars, it’s Snickers. Its celebrity marketing conga line kicked off during Super Bowl 2010 when Snickers resurrected Golden Girls’ Betty White for its hugely successful ‘You’re Not You when You’re Hungry’ campaign.
The ad increased single Snickers volume sales by 13.4%, won an Effie Global Gold and went viral with over seven million views, setting up the celebrity premise to follow with Robin Williams, Liza Minnelli, Joan Collins and Aretha Franklin amongst others.
For a brand with truly global ambitions, it made sense that Snickers would turn next to a celebrity who transcends both geographical borders and language barriers.
Set in ancient China and filmed in the style of a martial arts epic, the hapless Mr Bean appears as a Kung Fu Master who’s not feeling his usual self until his hunger is relieved with a Snickers.
The campaign’s run with training sketches exclusive to Snickers’ social channels, amassing six million plus views and at least 80,000 social interactions. Expect the global Bean counter to tick over here soon.
David blends it like Beckham for Haig
Another of this year’s creative partnerships has seen David Beckham team up with Diageo to launch his own single grain Scotch, Haig Club.
Guy Ritchie directed the global film Welcome, featuring Beckham and his buddies converging on a Scottish castle by motorbike, seaplane and convertible through sumptuous Scottish scenery in order to knock back a few Haigs in kilts.
It’s a visual feast to be sure, but all that fairly contrived gallivanting at the hands of Ritchie could be utterly slappable were it not for the fact that, regardless of being a celebrity endorsement juggernaut, Beckham is actually pretty hard not to like.
While some wags have dubbed this the best cologne Beckham’s launched to date, with all his star power it’s inevitable Haig Club is set for international release in 2015. Meaning its plans for world domination will presumably be much more than just a Highland fling.
DirecTv’s Rob Lowe pisses off ‘shy bladders’ all over America
There are some things you just can’t script, and it’s unlikely that even Hollywood could have concocted the reaction to DirecTv’s campaign featuring American film and television actor, Rob Lowe this year.
To illustrate the competition’s sub-standard cable offering the ad presented alter-egos of Lowe that ranged from physically unattractive to downright creepy. One of the DirecTV spots even features a socially awkward Lowe confiding that he has trouble urinating with other people in the room.
Enter the thoroughly outraged International Paruresis Association, an advocacy group representing Americans who suffer from ‘shy bladder’ syndrome. In high dudgeon they hosed down Lowe for flippantly ridiculing a serious medical condition.
The buzz surrounding Lowe’s compellingly performances along with the Paruresis Association’s PR spray didn’t exactly do DirecTV any harm. Intentionally or otherwise, the ad was still absolute comedy gold that had people all over America, as such, pissing themselves laughing.
It’s been a good year globally for creative and interesting brands employing the well crafted use of celebrities. The difference with these examples is the great fit, the clever creative and execution, and the power of the idea with the right celebrity. It’s a strong force when done right