Beyond the Swag Bag – The Business Behind Celebrity x Brand Partnerships

Rumor has it that Minnie Dlamini just inked a two year deal with BMW which will see her getting to drive around in a multi-million Rand BMW i8 and whatever other kick ass car they may have on offer.


Well, the brand reportedly decided to make the move as a sign of appreciation for Minnie’s loyalty to the brand over the years.
In addition to her most recent purchase – a BMW X5 for her parents – she bought herself a BMW M3 when she turned 21 in 2011 and upgraded to a BMW 4 series convertible a year ago.

We (as entertainment journalists and fans) often congratulate celebrities whenever they enter into these deals and it occurs almost by default, which got me thinking… What are we really congratulating them for?

Besides being able to bank one hell of a cheque, what do our favourite celebrities get out of these deals?

In Minnie’s case, one can easily quantify what she gets out of the deal but what about cosmetics deals or brand ambassadorship deals like Pearl Modiadie’s deal as Shoprite’s first ambassador for the Big Brand Beauty Extravaganza campaign they ran earlier this year.

Kirby Venlet, Account Manager at Celebrity Services Africa, says there are a number of benefits that celebrities can count on whenever they enter a brand partnership.

“The fact that ambassadors are not only celebrities, prominent media or sports personalities but also experts, high net worth individuals, musicians and authors means that being affiliated with a successful brand can up their status, extend their reach and push their following even further. Because they have a team of experts behind them, this team will ensure that they engage correctly with their audience and are seen in all the right circles with the right people,” explained Venlet.

Thanks to social media, influencer marketing has really taken off in recent years but what writers and commentators often neglect to mention is that celebrities are the original influencers. They have always had a large following whose opinion is easily swayed by said celebrities’ tastes, likes and dislikes.

Social media has just made their reach easier to quantify, subsequently making it easier for brands to determine which areas of interest each celebrity is an authority in as well as what kind of consumer they provide access to.

Being affiliated with a brand or becoming a brand ambassador leads to multiple networking opportunities with important game changers in their respected industries as well as fun stuff like receiving expensive merchandise (or swag bags) and paid vacations in exotic locations.

“For this to be achieved it is utmost importance to choose a brand that fits their personality, etc. That is where a company such as CSA becomes invaluable to the ambassador as well as the brand.”

In addition to the fun stuff, being linked to an established brand with a great reputation can work wonders for the career of a celebrity ambassador. In the event that they have a good run with that brand, it can open the door for other endorsement deals.

Once you enter that world however, the pressure is on to maintain a squeaky-clean reputation and avoid doing anything stupid. A good management and PR team is essential to achieving this.

“If the ambassador truly grabs the opportunity and makes the most of it, they are sure to benefit from the partnership as much as the brand does.” 

Take Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte for example. His lie about being robbed by locals in Rio during the 2016 Olympics cost him multi-million dollar endorsement deals and sponsorships once his lie was exposed. The same can be said for RnB singer, Chris Brown, following the news that he had abused his then girlfriend Rihanna, as well as South African athlete, Oscar Pistorius, after he murdered his girlfriend Reeve Steenkamp.

Major brands aren’t always looking for a celebrity ambassador though. Once in a blue moon, the everyday person gets a chance to shine as an ambassador and use the platform to launch themselves into a life they spent their days dreaming about.

One such brand is South African cider, Hunters Dry. They launched a campaign calling on young men to submit motivations for why they were the perfect candidate to take over from Thapelo Mokoena and become next China. A young, incredibly handsome doctor named Fezile Mkhize snatched the position and has been getting more work as a model ever since (in addition to shooting TV and print commercials for Hunters).

Depending on what his interests are, Fezile could take Venlet’s advice and make the most out of his time as thee Hunters China.

With that said, if this seems like something you would be keen on snagging for yourself, you could create an opportunity by building and online following in your chosen field of interest. That would set you up as an influencer, giving you the chance to partner with your favourite brands and live what the kids these days call ‘the upper life.’


Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @mediagirl_za


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s