Making celebrity tie-ups work

This year tie-ups between retailers and celebrities will once again make headlines when Topshop and Beyonce team up to launch a sports and activewear label in April. Topshop’s Sir Phillip Green wants people to remove any thoughts of an H&M-style tie-up from their minds.”This not a collaboration, this is about building a brand and building a business – a separate, proper business, with separate overheads and a separate office,” he has said. Used smartly, as can be assumed in this case, well targeted celebrity brand relationships can give brands a boost, providing a great way to generate engaging content that customers might actually want to see across multiple channels.

However, any retailers considering such tie-ups need to remember the connection must be credible and relevant. The talent or celebrity should connect with a brand to ensure they feel truly part of the partnership, and not just for the fee; they must live the story beyond the advert. Get that wrong at the start and the dividends may not flow. Great examples of where the ‘depth’ strategy works are Katy Perry and David Beckham’s H&M designer collaborations. If consumers are going to take style advice from anyone, one of the best-dressed men in the world is a good starting point. And Katy Perry’s huge reach will help brands turn up the awareness dial – she has 79 million followers on Twitter alone.


David Beckham’s Belstaff association is also a great fit. He was a customer of the brand and actually prefers to wear jeans, leather jackets and boots over the smarter/tailored looks people usually see him in. I hear that Beckham loves the team at Belstaff and I suspect goes above and beyond the written contract. Another great example of a partnership that works brilliantly is George Clooney and Nespresso. The actor is a huge fan of the philanthropic work Nespresso does. Clooney has said: “Nespresso and I have a shared commitment to sustainability, most recently helping to rebuild coffee farms in South Sudan. They are an incredibly responsible company.”  I’d expect more of this to come through in the marketing in the future, and what helps is the fact that Clooney sits on the Nespresso sustainability advisory board, which aims to improve the lives and futures of coffee farmers.


While there can be benefits of celebrity or talent endorsement it should not necessarily be an automatic strategy for any brand. But for those considering this route, there are a few simple rules:

  • Ask (and test) whether your audience will care, engage and believe the fit and the storytelling route you are considering
  • Fully research those you feel will be a great brand fit. They don’t have to be squeaky clean, but make sure they don’t hold (past or present) opposing views to your brand
  • Ensure the celebrity is truly interested in your brand, and try to find out what they are like to work with. You need a partnership mentality that will live beyond any ad creative.


by Mark Aldridge, Group Marketing Director at Jacques Vert Group Limited – Mark has worked with celebrity talent throughout his career.

This piece was originally written by Mark for Retail Week.