What happens when a celebrity uses your product?
For most companies it’s a dream scenario: A celebrity with millions of followers is photographed using your product. You’ve just been handed a PR jackpot on a golden platter. But, what can you do to most effectively take advantage of the situation WITHOUT running afoul of a hotshot Hollywood lawyer?
Our client KIM+ONO was fortunate enough to be put in that exact situation earlier this year, and we helped them capitalize on the opportunity and capture significant sales and exposure.
But that’s a boring story.
What’s more interesting is the process that the StubGroup and KIM+ONO teams followed to make the most of the opportunity. That’s what today’s story is all about!
First, we had to be VERY careful to not violate a concept known as “Right of Publicity.” Basically, this means that people have an expectation that their likeness and name won’t be used without their permission for commercial benefit.
So we worked closely in tandem with KIM+ONO’s legal team to make sure we didn’t cross any boundaries, while also taking advantage of the awesome PR opportunity.
KIM+ONO launched as a Chinatown boutique under the name “Old Shanghai” thirty years ago. They expanded from their flagship location in San Francisco and built a thriving ecommerce business, which StubGroup has had the privilege of marketing since 2017.
Each kimono features an original pattern, first sketched by hand, then saturated in rich watercolors using a traditional paintbrush. This results in beautiful, eye-catching designs, and combines with their ultra-soft charmeuse and silks to make incredibly comfortable and stylish loungewear.
After singer and songwriter Gwen Stefani entered wedded bliss with country music superstar Blake Shelton on July 3, 2020, the “Hollaback Girl” singer shared highlights of their special day on Instagram.
One particular highlight that caught our attention: A boomerang-style Instagram post with Gwen raising her veil over her head and smiling, while wearing a beautiful silk robe with pink peonies on it, that was handcrafted by our very own KIM+ONO.
PEOPLE magazine jumped on the post and quickly published an article linking to KIM+ONO’s site so that Stefani fans could check out the stylish robes for themselves.
As soon as we became aware of Gwen’s post, StubGroup’s team jumped into action, developing ideas around how we could capitalize on the great press as quickly as possible.
KIM+ONO’s legal team also swung into full force as we explored what we could and couldn’t legally do. That’s one of the many things we love about working with clients such as KIM+ONO: Their commitment to doing the right thing.
Idea #1: Capitalize on Google Search Traffic
We suggested targeting Google searches such as “Gwen Stefani robe,” “Gwen Stefani kimono,” etc. to capture traffic from Stefani fans who wanted to wear what Gwen wore.
The important question was: What could we legally say in the ad copy? Gwen didn’t technically endorse the product, so we couldn’t infer in our ads that she was endorsing KIM+ONO.
We initially thought about using ad text such as “see the robe Gwen wore.”
After conferring with legal counsel, we decided to play it even safer and not use Gwen’s name in the ad copy, period. We did, however, write compelling ads that pointed traffic directly to the product page for the
specific robe that Gwen wore, so that people reaching KIM+ONO’s website would instantly realize that they had reached the right place.
Idea #2: Mention the Post on Product Pages
We considered uploading a video or photo to the KIM+ONO website and their Amazon product pages showing Gwen wearing the robe.
We eventually decided against doing this, because using a celebrity’s likeness without their permission to facilitate sales is a legal no-no.
Idea #3: Comment on the Instagram Post
KIM+ONO used their official Instagram account to comment on Gwen’s post, thanking her for letting them be a small part of her special day.
This came from a genuine place, and also provided people reading the comments on Gwen’s post an easy way to learn more about KIM+ONO.
Idea #4: Share the Post
KIM+ONO shared Gwen’s post via their official social pages. This created Organic visibility, but also gave us the opportunity to leverage those posts as ads.
We did this via two campaigns:
- Boosted Post Engagement
- Conversion-Optimized Ads
Idea #5: Boost the PEOPLE Magazine Article
We tested sending traffic to the PEOPLE Magazine article that linked back to KIM+ONO’s website
This allowed us to use PEOPLE Magazine’s credibility while still pointing potential customers to purchase the product.
If you’re ever fortunate enough to capture a celebrity using your product or service, jump on it!
But be VERY careful to not violate their Right to Publicity or infer a relationship that doesn’t exist.
That’s why you want good legal counsel — and an experienced partner such as StubGroup — to help you make the most of opportunities that come your way.