Celebrities embodying tech firms: the right mix?

By Carole Bersillon, Intern

What is the effect of Christina Aguilera performing at a Microsoft event or Sting saying that he is “very impressed by the great technology produced by Oracle Corp”?  Is celebrity endorsement for tech firms really valuable? An article from the Wall Street Journal “Battle of the Bands: Tech Firms Compete for Rock Stars” presents the new trend related to celebrity endorsement for tech firms. It seems that the fad is expanding during events, conferences or consumer meetings with celebrities such as Elton John, Tom Petty, Bon Jovie or Dave Matthews.

Instead of debating about the pros and cons of celebrity endorsement for brands, let’s focus on these questions: how the right matching can be found and how a celebrity can incarnate the DNA of a tech brand?

It is easy to admit the following associations, since they all refer to daily consumer tech products and deal with lifestyle and trends – Thierry Henry for Logitech iPod headphones, U2’s Bono for a black and red iPod or Paris Hilton and her T-Mobile Sidekick II – but what about hardware and software? Does the magic of the “halo effect” (a Tony Bradley expression referring to the celebrity’s glamour rubbing off on the product) apply on supercomputers, software and cloud computing?

It seems that firms now compete through celebrity endorsement (who will they manage to get next time?) and that it has become an indicator of their financial health, as well as a mean to please their audience than really have a valuable or refreshing effect on the brand image. For some firms it is really profitable, for others, it proves to be just an entertainment moment with no consequent effect.

The WSJ provides a perfect example, “In 2010, Oracle hired hip-hop’s Black Eyed Peas; one older Oracle salesman, asked the following year, recalled their name as ‘something with food’”.

Consequently, dealing with PR strategies for tech firms it seems to me that a real partnership would be the right mix: a personality incarnating the brand or creating a specific content, something unique that could symbolize how they both match. Think about Apple. Their commercials have become a vehicle to promote music and the store, as the device itself. It is not Daft Punk saying they like Apple, it is Daft Punk creating a piece for Apple.

So at this time of the year, when Fusion like other PR firms prepare yearly plans for its clients, would celebrity endorsement be a strategy to consider, even for B2B clients?

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