Fashion is an aspirational industry. Like fragrances and luxury cars, desire is so often driven by marketing campaigns that show the coolest, wealthiest, most beautiful people enjoying the enviable item in question. A shopper wants to be part of the clique; to rub against the perfectly taut and toned shoulders of the individuals shown in the magazine ads and on the billboards.
As a fashion brand, finding the right taut and toned shoulders on which to place your clothing can play a big part in the success of your business. Finding a personality who not only looks fantastic in your designs, but also resonates with your typical customer and gets them to aspire, can be the difference between going boom and going bust.
But getting your clothes on the body of a celebrity isn’t an easy task. Do you try to speak directly with the celebrity? Do you reach out to their manager? Their publicist?
You could, but the person who will be the best asset to you is the celebrity’s stylist. The stylist is the person who is hired to choose what the celebrity wears, and will therefore filter any incoming offers, and try to find the fashion brands that fit with their client’s brand.
So how do you introduce your brand to a celebrity’s stylist in a way that will get your attire in their wardrobe? Let’s take a look.
Finding the right celebrity
Your first task is to find a celebrity who fits with your brand. The perks of identifying a celebrity who perfectly matches your brand’s style and ethos are two-fold:
- Your day-to-day customers are more likely to ‘connect’ with the celebrity
- The celebrity will be more likely to accept your offer if they identify with your brand
The question you need to ask yourself is simple. Why? Why would the celebrity be interested in my brand? Does my fashion align with what I’ve seen them wear before? Does my brand’s ethos match theirs? You need to invest time in researching a celebrity’s style, and what they’re passionate about. You need to then form a compelling pitch that explains why the celebrity and your brand are a match made in heaven.
But it can’t be forgotten that your celebrity will only be introduced to your brand if their stylist identifies with your product too. In fact, it’s probably more important to impress the stylist than the celebrity, as they are often the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to the celebrity’s wardrobe. While they may be trickier to research, just as much effort should be put into finding out what makes the stylist tick.
Where should you start your hunt? While it might be tempting to check out what your competitors are doing, a better strategy is to find complimentary brands that are targeting the same audience. This will allow you to make contact with a celebrity if you feel they are a tight fit – something that is difficult if they already represent a competitor.
The great thing about social media marketing is that it is easily measurable. How many likes, comments and shares did a post get? And how big was the audience? These two numbers will give you an engagement rate – a super simple yet surprisingly insightful measure of marketing success. Look at the campaigns of these complementary brands, and see what worked and what didn’t. Success and failure can be determined by a range of factors, but will usually come down to the choice of celebrity or the campaign strategy.
Who will resonate with your customer base? To find out, simply check who they follow! By identifying celebrities that your social media followers tend to follow, you’ll get a good understanding of the sort of person you need to target.
While you can manually scour the profiles of followers to get a sense of who your audience will respond to, there are many tools available for this exact purpose. If your having trouble finding celebrities by utilizing Google, you can use a tool like Celebrity Endorsers to find celebrities who align with the interests of your followers!
From this groundwork you should be able to form a list of relevant candidates.
Paid vs free
It’s important to note here that there are two avenues to celebrity endorsement – paid and free. The route that your brand takes will be steered by your budget, your designs and your brand’s mission.
Paid endorsement: The upper echelon of the Hollywood A-list can command significant sums for wearing a big brand on the red carpet, and their stylists can earn a handsome ‘finders fee’ too.
As with anything business, your brand simply seeks a return on investment. For example, if your brand caters to a younger audience then you could pay to have an artist wear your t-shirt brand in a music video and expose the brand to the aritsts entire fan base. This is just one route. When you are paying for the endorsement, you have more control on where and how your brand is seen, whether you want them to post a picture of them wearing your brand on their Instagram, or do a photoshoot, you can negotiate that. The price for paying a celebrity to endorse your brand varies depending on the celebrity, and what you want them to do.
Paying also offers guarantees. A contract ensures that you’ll get the celebrity that you want, they’ll wear your brand when you need them to, and they’ll drop your name into the microphone on cue.
Free endorsement: While it’s a less foolproof strategy than paid endorsement, free endorsement is the more accessible option for most brands. By ‘free’ we simply mean that no money is exchanged, but clothing must obviously still be given away.
Free endorsements are best capitalized on if your brand offers more everyday wear. While the celebrity is under no obligation to wear your attire, if they do, you have a terrific piece of marketing content that has cost you nothing more than a small piece of material. The better your brand fits with the chosen celebrity, the more likely they are to both take up your offer, and do so for nothing more than free samples of clothing. This makes finding the perfect all the more important.
Reaching out to the stylist
So you’ve found your celebrity and you’re ready to get in contact with their stylist. Why the stylist? Because they are the celebrity’s style representative, and any related queries must be channeled through them – much as public appearances are organised through a PR person, and new work is organised through an agent.
Your first job is to find the stylist. Previously a cloak and dagger operation that would involve countless emails and whispers in the hallway, you can utilize a celebrity stylist list to find out the contact info for stylists. Simply pop in the celebrity’s name, and you’ll get a list of all their stylists (with contact information), the brands that they are currently associated with, and a wealth of other handy info.
It should be noted that many successful stylists actually have agents themselves, to help sift through the offers and enquiries sent to the celebrities they represent. The most effective way to ensure that your attire ends up on a celebrity is to hand control over to the stylist. Send out samples to a stylist, and let them decide which of the celebrities they represent best fits with your brand.
While there are no absolute rules for making contact with a stylist (or their agents), and your communication should reflect the personality of your brand, there are a few basic dos and don’ts that should be adhered to.
- Pick up the phone and call. In the mind of the stylist this turns you straight from a business opportunity to a telemarketer.
- Send a lookbook of your entire product line. You might assume that exhibiting your entire range will allow the stylist to choose an item that perfectly suits their celebrity, but the reality is that they simply won’t bother. They’re busy people.
- Be picky. If a stylist comes back to you saying that they’d be more prepared to pass your attire onto celebrity B than they would celebrity A, or that they love an item that you aren’t really looking to push, don’t argue the point. Be appreciative of the opportunity you’ve been granted.
- Email rather than call or request a meeting. This allows the stylist to answer at their leisure. They’ll appreciate the courtesy.
- Highlight one or two of your products. Rather than sending the stylist a lookbook or directing them to your site, do the hard work for them. Attach images of a couple of items that you feel the celebrity would really love.
- Keep the message polite and to-the-point. Stylists are busy, so make sure that you keep your message concise, without coming across abrasive.
Billy Bones is marketing director at Booking Agent Info, a celebrity contact database that allows brands to skip the middleman by providing the contact information for the official agent, manager, and publicist of celebrities. He also works at Celebrity Endorsers, which provides brands with celebrity data including their celebrity endorsements, interests, and the causes and charities that they support.