Taking a Stand: The Authenticity of Celebrities

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Social media is the key for weeding out talent to be a spokesperson for a brand.  If the brand doesn’t like what the celebrity has to say on social media they more than likely will not like the image the celebrity will give to the public.  Celebrities often are their most authentic self on social media, which is something brands need.  Ken Hertz, Founding Partner of memBrain, shared that he believes brands need a spokesperson that is going to take a side and show their audience who they are.  It is also important that whom ever the brand chooses, the celebrity actual enjoys the product uses it and generally uses it exclusively.  If the public saw a spokesperson using a competing product it undermines the point of the spokesperson and basically makes the sponsorship useless.

Authenticity is important for a spokesperson of any color but for people of color it has an extra need.  Christy Haubegger, executive at Creative Artists Agency, explained that people of color don’t have the privilege to decide whether or not they want to say anything about the present issues in the United States and World.  They need to make a choice and with that choice they can be opened up to a variety of brands soley based on the fact that they took a stand.  A great example of authenticity is the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick that has been flooding the news and social media.  Kaepernick took a knee against the National Anthem because he said he didn’t want to support a country that doesn’t support people of color.  Now, Kaepernick has the best selling jersey in the NFL.  Taking a stand is now his brand.

The panel discussed the repercussions that follow when a celebrity takes a stand on a controversial issue. Hertz said that if one of his clients “took a knee” like Kaepernick he would support them through it.  In Kaepernick’s case Hertz argued that taking a stand actually increased Kaepernick’s brand. There is always a possibility that a celebrity will loose sponsorship but that is why matching up brands with the right celebrities is so important. Haubegger elaborated that sometimes brands have a specific celebrity in mind and it’s her job to pair them with someone that will fit their needs better.  The spokesperson Haubegger recommends often depends on matching the type of work the brand is looking to contract and the celebrity’s personality.  Overall brands need to support celebrities that take an authentic stand.

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