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Young Hollywood holds immense star power for luxury brand ambassadorship

November 5, 2012


Short-lived rumors that British actor Robert Pattinson was the new face of Christian Dior men's fragrances spurred an instant media frenzy and experts agree that tapping young Hollywood is an effective way to market a fragrance at this time.

Dior shot down rumors that it had signed a $12 million-deal, but it is still possible that Mr. Pattinson may be eventually added to the French label's roster of celebrity brand ambassadors. Tapping a celebrity with such appeal as Mr. Pattinson but who also aligns with the brand image seems like a winning combination for Dior.

“He is a very good choice - he is young and handsome,” said Al Ries, chairman of marketing consultancy Ries & Ries, Roswell, GA. “He is well-known among young women, who are ironically the best prospects for Dior men’s fragrances.

“Brands should think long-term and pick celebrities that are going to look good for decades to come,” Mr. Ries said. “Because of his age, Mr. Pattinson could be a long-term celebrity spokesperson for the brand.

“Celebrities who get famous tend to be relatively old, which tends to be a big problem for companies.”

Mr. Ries is not affiliated with Dior, but agreed to comment as industry expert.

Dior did not respond before press deadline. It is part of the LVMH empire.

Working with a fan base

Rumors circulated last week in news sources such as the Los Angeles Times and International Business Times that Mr. Pattinson had signed a $12 millon-deal that would make him the new face of Dior men's  fragrance.

However, Dior dismissed the rumors in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

If the deal were to go through, Dior could gain customers from the actor's relevance and current media attention.

In fact, Mr. Pattinson's media attention will increase when the fourth installment in the Twilight Saga movie series "Breaking Dawn: Part 2" is released Nov. 16.

Robert Pattinson (via Robert Pattinson Facebook fan page) 

“Mr. Pattinson is top of mind and a household name,” said Brittany Mills, director of client services at B Culture Media, Atlanta. “[Dior would likely] see an increase in purchases and its social fan base with their younger demographic due to his involvement.”

In addition, Mr. Pattinson could be a stepping stone to help the brand become more relevant to young consumers who will grow into prospective customers.

“It is very similar to what Burberry did with having Emma Watson become a new celebrity endorser during the Harry Potter craze,” Ms. Mills said.

“I think Dior could be viewed two different ways - one, as still a luxury and classic brand to those that are loyal customers and shop the high-ticket items, and two, as a brand that fits into the lifestyle of those who are loyal Mr. Pattinson followers."

Mr. Pattinson's large female fan-base will only help Dior in pushing its men's fragrance.

“His fan base is overwhelmingly female and he is promoting men’s fragrances, which may seem counter-intuitive, but imagine the woman who desires to have her man smell like him,” said Courtney Albert, management consultant at Parker Avery Group, Atlanta. “By using Pattinson’s celebrity power, Dior can appeal to a younger demographic.”

Star power
There is still a huge opportunity for luxury marketers to leverage their products and personalities through celebrity endorsements since ambassadors bring to life the values, image and emotions of a high-end label.

It is especially relevant for luxury marketers to have brand ambassadors who are famous, glamorous and in-line with the company image. While there are risks associated with the public face of a brand, the pros far outweigh the cons, experts generally concur (see story).

“Anytime a brand partners or hires a celebrity as the face of their product or brand, they have to take both the good and the bad aspects of that celebrity,” Ms. Albert said. “We are long-removed from the time where celebrities can do no wrong, even though I would say that we are still a very celebrity-driven culture.”

Now it seems that celebrities are being used more and more as brand ambassadors and product endorsers.

Recently, Brad Pitt was featured in a campaign for French label Chanel's No. 5 fragrance.

The No. 5 campaign that kicked off Oct. 14 features Mr. Pitt – the first male brand ambassador for the women’s fragrance – in creative that the label rolled out via print, TV, digital and mobile (see story).

“Celebrity ambassadors are not getting out of hand,” Mr. Ries said. “More and more brands are benefiting from associating themselves with celebrities and many celebrities are making a fortune in the process.”

Moreover, celebrity ambassadors are nothing new for Dior. Actresses Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis have represented Dior.

The brand recently announced that "The Hunger Games" actress Jennifer Lawrence would serve as the face of its spring/summer 2013 Miss Dior leather goods campaign.

Natalie Portman for Miss Dior

“Attaching your brand to a celebrity is a great way to create immediate awareness especially within the social space,” B Culture's Ms. Mills said. “It is not just about having them wear the watch around town, but it is now about having them post, tweet, blog and Instagram their involvement with a brand.

“Customers are more receptive to see how a celebrity uses that product in their everyday life as opposed to just seeing them in an ad," she said.

Final Take
Erin Shea, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York