Famous isn’t good enough

Hooking up with a well-known athlete or entertainer can harness some of that star power for your brand, but only if your target has a personal connection with the celeb. Tiger costs a bomb but you might as well burn that money if you're trying to woo rebellious teens or blue-collar beer drinkers.
With that in mind, Strategy turned to some sports and entertainment marketing experts for advice on the best match for some desirable demos.

Hooking up with a well-known athlete or entertainer can harness some of that star power for your brand, but only if your target has a personal connection with the celeb. Tiger costs a bomb but you might as well burn that money if you’re trying to woo rebellious teens or blue-collar beer drinkers.

With that in mind, Strategy turned to some sports and entertainment marketing experts for advice on the best match for some desirable demos.

Price guide

$$$ = gold-plated budgets only

$$ = within reach for most medium-sized Canadian firms

$ = a bargain at twice the price

The target

The extreme sports set: Young adult males in the 16- to 24-year-old age range who are into snowboarding and other heart-pumping, potentially dangerous sports.

The possibilities

$$$ Tony Hawk: Pro skateboarder turned ESPN commentator for the non-traditional sport. Described as the ‘Michael Jordan’ of skateboarding, he has produced two best-selling video games for guys who like to emulate the latest skate tricks from the sofa. ‘He’s moderately accessible and he’s old school in that scene,’ explains Andrew Turner, president of Bat Cave Productions in Toronto. ‘These kids are looking for the real deal.’

$$ Shawn Fanning: This 20-year-old university dropout brought the music industry to its knees with Napster, his music-swapping Web site. He clicks with the guys because ‘testing boundaries is part of this segment’s makeup,’ according to Matthew Weinstein at Armstrong Partnership in Toronto. ‘Challenging authority and defining their own lifestyle and the rules they abide by is important to them.’

$ Morgan Knabe: This Canadian swimmer is the antithesis of the sweet-and-smiley Mark Tewksbury, thanks to his pierced tongue, funky style and hardcore attitude. ‘He’s willing to take a stand on just about anything and has even openly talked about competitors using performance-enhancing drugs,’ points out Blake Corosky, VP athlete and property representation at Toronto-based True Gravity Sports and Entertainment. ‘Although swimming is not an extreme sport, Knabe is an extreme athlete.’

The target

The Britney brats: Tween girls, between eight and 14, who follow the fashion crimes of Britney Spears (or as close to it as their parents will allow), and swoon for the latest boy bands.

The possibilities

$$$ Britney Spears: You’re likely to create a buzz if you invest in the Queen of Tweens herself, according to the experts. This impressionable lot will likely follow her career until she goes the way of Tiffany, Cyndi Lauper and countless others who have come before her. ‘You are looking for someone popular and successful because, for this group, they want to see girls who have made it,’ explains Jane Langdon, president of Toronto-based PR firm Langdon Starr Ketchum, which turns to youth marketing firm Youth Culture Research, of Toronto, for advice on this demographic.

$$ Mia Hamm: The best-known striker on the almost-unbeatable U.S. women’s soccer squad. Has a huge following among hordes of young girls who stick around for her autograph after matches. She’s a winner for much the same reason that Britney is: tweens have a desire for role models, says Corosky.

$ Sugar Jones: The five Canadian crooners had a following among this psychographic even before they flooded the airwaves with their superficial pop tunes, thanks to Global’s reality TV series Popstars. Why not latch onto them while little girls still know who they are? Tweens have a ‘voracious appetite for glitz, glam and entertainment,’ and therefore, the likes of Sugar Jones can ‘help them find their identity and enable them to gain social acceptance,’ says Matthew Weinstein.

The target

Women who want it all: The 35- to 54-year-olds who have built respected careers, but somehow manage to have time for a child or two.

The possibilities

$$$ Martha Stewart: Why not the woman everyone looks to for answers in etiquette, asks Bat Cave’s Turner. Despite having a daughter, Stewart has still somehow managed to run a billion-dollar business and raise her own chickens too. ‘She’s a divorced woman who has done her best to balance family and career,’ he says. ‘It comes back to credibility.’

$$$ Shania Twain: Sure she’s been out of the recording studio for a while, but Shania strikes a chord with this group, insists Langdon. Especially since females can respect and relate to the reason she’s been a no-show lately – her new baby. No doubt she will feel even more like a woman as she re-enters the limelight, this time with babe in tow.

$ Sandra Bezic: This popular figure skating commentator and choreographer is aspirational to the target because of her many accomplishments, says Corosky. Not only is she intelligent and attractive, he points out, she also counts world champions among her charges. As a mom, wife, TV producer and author of the book The Passion to Skate, Bezic defines superwoman.

The target

The beer belly crowd: Males between the ages of 35 and 45 who wouldn’t get off the couch to change the channel but love to get together with the boys for a few beers when the game’s on.

The possibilities

$$$ Vince Carter: The toothy Toronto Raptors star scores with the target not only because of his slam-dunk skills, but because he’s happy to play his game in Canada. Personable and talented, he’s someone these guys would love to hang with, says Andrew Turner.

$$$ John Cusack: As suggested by his movie roles, he’s an everyguy – someone guys feel they could sit down and grab a beer with, says Rick Shaver, VP client services at Encore Encore Strategic Management. ‘It’s about being able to relate to the ultimate guy.’

$$ Pat Quinn: The normally self-controlled Toronto Maple Leafs and Canadian Olympic Team coach would be another shoo-in, according to Corosky. ‘He tells it like it is and has one of the highest-profile jobs in Canada. He’s perceived to be tough as nails, but a players’ coach.’

The target

Affluent thirtysomething males: They drink scotch instead of beer, discuss deals on the golf course and fly business class, not coach.

The possibilities

$$$ Michael Douglas: Mainly because of the high-roller characters he plays, this movie star is one these men can look up to, says Shaver. ‘These thirtysomething guys living the high-end lifestyle still have a shot at the brass ring, which means they could still be a Michael Douglas-type guy. They like him because they respect success, wealth and power.’

$$ Felix Dennis: This founder of Maxim magazine fought tooth-and-nail to get his glossy off the ground, overcoming rejection from hundreds of companies before someone finally bought into his success story. According to Andrew Turner at Bat Cave, guys would probably love to listen to him: ‘They would want to talk to someone who actually overcame all that negativity, persevered and actually got it going on.’

$ Mike Weir: Individual sports athletes, such as golfers, tennis players and skiers, appeal to this segment, because they are independently successful, points out Corosky. But while the ultimate high-price choice in athletic endorsement for affluent thirtysomethings probably would be Tiger Woods, Canadian golfer Mike Weir is a less expensive, but still worthy option.

The target

The upper crust: Their income is in the top 2% of all Canadians and their world is straight out of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. They aren’t likely to join commoners at the local pub to watch Hockey Night in Canada.

The possibilities

$$$ Cecilia Bartoli: The renowned mezzo-soprano is hailed in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world, representing a cultural environment that is most accessible to the wealthy. ‘[This psychographic] is an elite club that’s expensive to join,’ explains Matthew Weinstein. ‘Lineage, inheritance, philanthropy and social prominence all make this old-money segment entirely exclusionary.’

$$$ Pierce Brosnan: Who better to speak to high society than an elegant-and-sexy James Bond? Of course, the dapper suits and British accent helps too. ‘They’re interested in people of their stature and above who know what they’re talking about,’ points out Ross Marin, executive VP marketing at new Toronto-based sports marketing agency Fantactics. ‘Brosnan exudes class and distinction.’

$$ Conrad Black: The Canadian media mogul is a contender, even if he has defected to England. Hell, old money would understand why. ‘In any culture, whoever that top 2% is will be attracted to people like them who can relate to their lifestyle,’ explains Langdon.