Spokespeople are nothing new to marketing strategy, but the era of instant digital communications means the potential risks and benefits they carry are bigger than ever.
On the one hand, social media channels like Twitter and Instagram allow brands to reach an audience of millions through their spokespeople, with Samsung’s infamous tie-in with Ellen DeGeneres amassing a mind-blowing 3 million retweets in 48 hours. On the other hand, social media also allows for spokespeople to embarrass themselves and their brands in front of the whole world, as illustrated by basketball superstar LeBron James tweeting about his grievances with a sponsor’s phone.
It is therefore more important than ever that today’s marketers make sure they get the right spokespeople, given the precarious balance between the risks and rewards using them carries. Choosing Mr or Mrs Right is a challenge, with different brands possessing wildly different needs and unique customer bases. Spokespeople need to understand the pertinent issues relating to a brand and possess the authority to take a stand under the pressure of a media interview. Furthermore having a spokesperson who reflects a brand’s core values or features is also extremely important, as typified by the long-running association between Usain Bolt and Virgin Media.
The US Republican party is currently in the process of electing their next spokesperson, who will have to defeat a Democratic party that has spent eight years in power. The frontrunner Donald Trump has a rather colourful history when it comes to his communications – perhaps voters ought to heed the advice of the marketing profession when choosing their candidate.