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Could Celebrity Affiliations Catapult Your Startup to Success?

Dec 20, 2017


Gaining celebrity partnerships or endorsements can sometimes seem utterly out of reach for small businesses. When you’re hard at work in your London coworking space perfecting your product or service, the world of the red carpet might as well be another planet. But gaining celebrity affiliations may not be as difficult as you think, and can benefit both parties in several ways.  


Here’s everything you need to know about tapping into the business potential of the rich and famous.


Choose the right celebrity

The innovative, experimental instruments and production tools of music start-up ROLI were already receiving positive attention from the likes of Hans Zimmer, but earlier this year they received their most significant backing from investor Pharrell Williams[1].


Williams’ new affiliation with ROLI is a textbook case of celebrity and start-up matching perfectly – as well as being a successful pop star in his own right, Williams is a producer with decades of experience, so it would make sense that ROLI’s products would pique his interest. In fact, Williams joined ROLI as more than an investor – he was also named as their chief creative officer.


By affiliating with the right celebrity, ROLI didn’t just receive a fleeting endorsement – they also gained Williams’ considerable industry knowledge and technical expertise when it comes to cutting edge recording equipment. Their partnership is a testament to the importance of seeking out interesting and relevant affiliations that don’t look like a sponsored ploy.


Social media is more effective than you think

One of the most common barriers to gaining any sort of celebrity affiliation for small businesses is often a lack of access – how on earth can you possibly get word of your business from your co-working space in Shoreditch to whatever rarefied retreat the famous dwell in?


If your assumption is that social media couldn’t possibly be the answer to this question, you may be surprised. While reaching out to celebrities via social media will often simply result in your pitch getting lost among the barrage of messages they receive by the hour, it can still be possible to cut through – and there’s never any harm in trying.


In fact, some celebrities have found a way to use social media specifically for business affiliations. Dragon’s Den star and retail magnate Theo Paphitis endorses small businesses on Twitter using his #SmallBusinessSunday hashtag. Businesses are encouraged to pitch themselves in a single tweet each Sunday, and Paphitis then retweets the best submissions to his thousands of followers[2].


Make the affiliation memorable

Having the backing or endorsement of a celebrity is all well and good, but if all they’re doing is mentioning the name of your brand once in a blue moon, it’s unlikely to cut through.


Often a single, highly memorable incident or event is all that it takes to spread your business’s message. When Clapton-based pizza restaurant Yard Sale Pizza were looking to make the leap from DIY side-project to a fully-fledged business, they hit upon just such an event – they invited The Pizza Underground, the comedy covers band featuring Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin, to play at their opening[3].


The ingenious part of this particular affiliation is that it generated headlines that were mutually beneficial to both parties – Yard Sale Pizza had their profile raised significantly, while the media attention surely gave a boost to the crowd numbers at Pizza Underground gigs.


Whether you’re looking for a close working partnership or affiliation for a one-off event, gaining the input of a celebrity figure can give you more than simply an A-list name to boast about – and in the age of social media, the worlds of small businesses and celebrities are not as far apart as you may think.


[1] http://www.factmag.com/2017/10/26/pharrell-williams-roli-chief-creative-officer/

[2] https://www.theopaphitissbs.com/

[3] https://www.hackneycitizen.co.uk/2014/05/22/macaulay-culkin-yard-sale-pizza/