Celebrity restaurant marketing is by no means a new phenomenon. Basically, it boils down to a partnership between a restaurant and a celebrity, allowing for endorsements and marketing opportunities. Obviously, this allows for a wide range of creativity when it comes to crafting your marketing strategy.
It’s difficult to get a restaurant off the ground without stirring up some serious word of mouth. And lining up celebrity endorsements is one of the best ways to get people talking. After all, they already have the attention of their audience, which means that anything they endorse does too.
Celebrity marketing is also a great way to connect your restaurant with a face and a personality, someone for the potential customer to identify with. This helps to encourage investment on the part of your new audience.
Effective celebrity restaurant marketing often springs from outside-the-box thinking. From WWF’s Ronda Rousey schilling Carl Jr.’s breakfast sandwiches to Reba McIntyre showing up as the embodiment of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Colonel Sanders, to Joel McHale for Burger King, celebrity endorsements wrap name recognition together with clever marketing to get the maximum bang for your marketing buck.
But that doesn’t mean you have to run out and spend thousands or even a million dollars to acquire a big-name celebrity for your restaurant marketing.
Take a look at these top tips for adapting big-time celebrity restaurant marketing to a slightly smaller-time eatery.
Local Celebrity Restaurant Marketing
Finding a celebrity to endorse your restaurant can seem like a daunting task, but the right celebrity restaurant marketing will set your eatery apart.
The trick here is not to set your sights on the true “big name” celebrities, but keep your budget in mind and look at famous faces closer to home. Consider the community or even the larger area in which your restaurant is situated—your city, your county, or your state. Since it’s unlikely, at least at this point, that you’re looking at a franchise situation, a good place to start looking for a celebrity endorsement is among local celebrities. They will have significance to your customers, even if not to a wider base, and that significance is just as likely to drive traffic as someone more widely known.
Some potential options for local celebrity endorsements include:
- Local newscasters or reporters
- Sports stars from your local high school or college, or even at the state level
- Well-known business owners within your community
- Officials in local government, either current or past
Finding a celebrity endorsement from the “local” category is much more likely to be within your budget, and it’s also more likely that you’ll be able to land them to begin with. In addition to that, the schedule that a local celebrity has is more apt to be conducive to taking on a marketing campaign, helping ensure that you don’t suffer from your spokesperson suddenly going radio silent.
Align Your Celebrity Choice With Your Brand
Once you have your field of candidates, it’s time to narrow it down based on how they align with your brand.
Brand alignment is important, not just because it’s a matter of sending the right message, but also because your audience may not have the best reaction to your spokesperson. The celebrity could stand for something completely at odds with your brand; or they could simply fail to connect on a meaningful level with your audience.
When choosing your celebrity endorsement, it’s important to consider:
- Their reputation
- What they stand for
- Their history, including any scandals or problems that occurred in the public eye
- Their personality
Thoroughly Outline Your Campaign
What exactly do you want from your celebrity spokesperson? A TV spot? A print ad? A mention on their Instagram?
Whatever the case, make sure to have it all outlined before you approach your celebrity. Detail the campaign in writing so they know exactly what they’re getting in to, and so that you’re covered in case they back out of any specific part.
Even if your budget only allows for giving your celebrity a free meal and asking that they wear a t-shirt with, say your BBQ restaurant logo, it still should be clearly outlined so that all parties involved know exactly what to expect.
Factors that should be covered in your campaign include, but are not limited to:
- The level of involvement by the celebrity
- What the celebrity can expect in return for their endorsement
- The length of time that the campaign will run
Switch Up Your Spokespeople
Changing up your celebrity restaurant marketing strategy is a good idea. Framing short, effective campaigns around a series of celebrities allow your brand room to breathe, as well as making space for upcoming names, not to mention avoiding getting trapped into any celebrities who are sinking in popularity or no longer aligning with your brand.
Frame the length of your celebrity restaurant marketing campaign around:
- The availability and schedule of the celebrity
- The length of time the celebrity has already been in the public eye, as well as their reliability
- Prospective upcoming campaigns
- Upcoming events in which your restaurant and/or the celebrity are involved
Connect Via Social Media
Regardless of what the main focus of your celebrity restaurant marketing campaign is, it’s definitely recommended that you include social media as a significant portion. Consumers tend to look at social media to find out information about potential brands of interest, to begin with—and if they see a celebrity endorsing a restaurant on their own social media account, following the restaurant’s accounts, or liking branded content, that adds significant social proof.
Even just creating a perceived connection between a celebrity and a restaurant by having them linked in a social media post can have an influence on the audience.
Overall, celebrity restaurant marketing is definitely doable on a smaller scale, even if not quite as effective as expensive large-scale big-name celebrity endorsements. These five tips listed here can help you narrow down your celebrity field to an affordable, brand-aligned celebrity who will help your restaurant to succeed.
Phil Eisenberg’s best skills include writing engaging articles, developing content strategies and planning digital marketing campaigns. He likes to play the guitar, and play with his dog while brainstorming ideas for his clients. He works at a local IT firm by day and freelances by night.