Rock on Scotch: How celebrity is shaping the market
5th January, 2017 by Lauren Eads
The relationship between brands and celebrities has always been rife with risk and subject to the unpredictable pendulum of a celebrity’s personal life.
A bitter business battle, ill-timed paparazzi snap or unexpected lack of charisma can leave the most robust partnerships in tatters and a brand’s image dented. Memorable missteps include Britney Spears being photographed drinking Coca-Cola while employed as the face of Pepsi, and Helena Bonham Carter declaring that she was “not really into makeup” while signed as the face of Yardley cosmetics. It is a wonder that celebrity endorsements should work at all, says Kevin Shaw, founder of the drinks brand and design agency Stranger and Stranger.
“Consumers aren’t dumb, so they know, in their heart of hearts, that some brand person has done a deal with some celeb marketing tea m and it’s all about the money, but they buy the great smell of Paris Hilton anyway,” he says. “It’s all just a willing suspension of disbelief at the junction of dreams and reality.”
Illusory they may be, but celebrity sponsorships have proven a powerful tool in the world of fashion, fragrance and wider drinks industry, to an extent. However their use within Scotch has been far more sporadic, and for good reason.
“They can smell it”, the actor Matthew McConaughey told The New York Times in July. “Millennials, and I know this for a fact, can smell solicitation, and it’s a turnoff. The best ads are not solicitous.”
McConaughey was referring to his role as creative director for Wild Turkey Bourbon, which includes writing and directing its ads. However the sentiment remains just as potent when applied to Scotch: overt marketing is a turnoff and credibility, or creating a believable illusion of credibility at the least, is vital. It is not enough to simply attach a famous face to a Scotch brand and hope people buy into its story. The story needs to be sold, and well.