The Evolution of Celebrity Endorsements

=As Q1 of 2014 comes to a close, we are seeing a major shift in the way brands are marketing themselves across online and offline platforms. The move from traditional advertising and celebrity endorsements to more direct influencer campaigns is enabling brands to connect and engage with consumers on a whole new level.

Industry expert and LMS Agency, Founder/Partner, Denise Lamberston, who specializes in forging celebrity and influencer partnerships for growth-stage and emerging brands, explains in an interview below.

You specialize in celebrity & influencer marketing. How has this shift affected these types of campaigns?

Celebrity endorsements are an antiquated model left over from traditional advertising that focused on print and television campaigns. Marketing is much more transparent now due to the internet and social media. This couldn't be more eloquently illustrated than with celebrity endorsements. As a celebrity, if you sign on to endorse a beverage, you better drink that beverage and none of its competitors. Because access to images of you carrying that drink, consuming that drink and buying that drink is photographed and available immediately on the internet, the consumer will call you out in a split second for not being authentic. Blogs & editorial follow suit, and quickly the story changes.

What is taking the place of endorsements? How are winning brands staying ahead?

For celebrities, we have seen a shift away from endorsements and licensing into brand partnerships. These partnerships create an authentic story that last longer than a traditional campaign. The marketing is woven into the celebrities' content, plans and projects, as well as in traditional advertising for the brand.

Winning brands are staying ahead by looking not just at celebrities but at influencers who can deliver a message.

Define influencers and explain their place and relevance in entertainment marketing.

Influencers are experts or personalities with a more narrow reach and a deeper impact. More and more data shows that consumers trust their network for purchasing influence more than celebrities. But celebrities have the largest platform to deliver a message. With my clients, I encourage a two-tiered strategy of celebrity for amplification and influencer for conversion.

Give me some examples of brands that are using influencers as part of their marketing strategy.

My client Notorious is a mobile advice app and its whole business is built around consumers' interest in experts and influencers. Notorious allows you to text experts privately with your questions about beauty, fashion, fitness, cooking and other categories. When it comes to these categories, the public wants to hear advice from people who have put the time in to create an expertise. They don't want to get advice from a celebrity who is being paid by a brand to tell them to try this shampoo or protein shake. We expect and deserve honesty and we know we can get it from influencers.

What does your agency do exactly for businesses like Notorious?
LMS is an entertainment marketing agency for growth stage and emerging brands. We focus on celebrity & influencer marketing for businesses that are growing and want to use entertainment marketing to accelerate that growth. We build thoughtful strategies, broker relationships, create & activate campaigns, and product seeding.

Why do you focus on growth stage businesses? What is the difference between growth stage & start ups?
I love the creativity of small businesses. They are nimble and move fast. There is a lot of excitement and upside. Also, influencers and celebrities love the opportunity to have creative input. That is much easier and more valued in growing businesses.

The difference between start ups & growth stage businesses comes down to money. Start ups generally don't have the kind of marketing budget yet to put towards this kind of marketing. They are focusing on product, product, product - which is exactly as it should be. Once they have a product in market that is gaining some traction, then we can start discussing exciting entertainment marketing. It's less expensive than you think!

LMS, founded by Denise Lamberston builds and executes entertainment and influencer marketing solutions for growth-stage and emerging businesses and brand extensions. By creating partnerships, campaigns, programming, strategies, and activations, LMS is able to offer a progressive approach to an otherwise intimidating niche of marketing for ascendant businesses.