"The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want from giving a celebrity your product," said Jones. "If you blindly send your product to a celebrity, the likelihood is that they will never see it — and their assistant or someone else’s assistant will end up with your product in their own home instead. Keep reasonable expectations in mind with what you hope to obtain through a gift of your brand — you may feel that your product is the absolute best in the world, and while it may be, the celebrity gifted may not fully be on the same page."
According to Jones, the best way to set your business up to take advantage of a celebrity is by working with an agency that has contacts with celebrities. This consequently can help a business to gain exposure in a variety of ways from having a celebrity tweet about your product to throwing a launch party where your product is seen with a celebrity.
Even if you can't afford an agency, however, there are still ways to get your products to celebrities, according to two companies that recently did it.
Oscar swag bag
Malvern, Penn.-based makeup boutique Kiss and Makeup has already outgrown one retail location in their short two year existence, but nothing could have prepared them for the potential growth they experienced as a result of one phone call.
"I got a call one night from a woman who I thought was just was telling me all these things," said Lisa Di Caprio, co-founder of Kiss and Makeup boutique and cosmetics line darci by Di Caprio. "So I didn't think much of it, but then I got a call back. She asked me if I was interested in being involved as one of 40 products included in Oscars swag bag. At that point, I said, 'Who are you? Can you give me some references?' She did and I checked it out, then I passed out on the floor."
The call was from a marketing representative at Distinctive Assets, the company responsible for putting together gift bags for award shows such as the Grammy Awards, the American Music Awards and this year's Oscar celebration. For Di Caprio and partner Darci Henry, what is even more remarkable is how they were seen by Distinctive Assets in the first place.
"Luckily, we have some good schools in Philly that we were able to get some interns from," said Di Caprio. "My creative designer was having press releases sent out through the interns that I would approve and send out. We got picked up, unknown to us, through someone who had seen us on PR Web."
Thanks to that ingenuity, the pair shipped 30 gift bags that were included in this year's "Everybody Wins at the Oscars" gift bag that was presented to the runners-up in the five major categories including Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. With Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Glenn Close and Michelle Williams all nominated for the Best Actress Oscar, the darci by Di Caprio brush cleaner and limited edition Kabuki brushes that the pair included in the gift bags are now in some famous hands.
Di Caprio and Henry didn't have to wait for the Oscars to experience the benefits of being included in the gift bag, however. Even though getting into the bag cost the small business a minimal investment of a few thousand dollars, the exposure has already been invaluable.
"We knew this was an opportunity that may never come around again, it was destiny knocking on our door," said Di Caprio. "We have had a huge increase in local media attention, radio, TV and print. We have also had an increase in sales, not only in our brush cleaner, but in all cosmetic sales. We also had a lot of networking opportunities we would not have had otherwise, not to mention a lot of local Philly pride."
While some companies go out of the way to give their products to the rich and famous, others just get lucky. Such was the case for Marcus Woolcott and Claire Theobald, who own New York boutique Beatrix. That is because the high-end backpacks, water bottles and lunchboxes that the pair designs have been seen on the arms of several high-profile celebrity moms including Katie Holmes, Halle Berry, Meg Ryan and Maggie Gyllenhaal, to name a few.
"The first celebrity we knew of who used our products was Marcia Cross when we were still called Dante Beatrix and that was about four years ago, when 'Desperate Housewives' was at its peak," said Theobald. "She was photographed with a diaper bag and it was really coincidental. That was the one time we sent things to celebrities, but she was seen with another one of our bags that we didn’t send her. That was first and last time that we mailed out our stuff to celebrities."
While Cross was seen with a Dante Beatrix diaper bag, Liv Tyler was the first celebrity seen carrying a Beatrix New York product. Even though the company does not actively send products to celebrities, the unintentional support of celebrities has been able to help the small business with just three employees experience surprising growth in the past few years.
"For us it is not like Halle Berry was seen with our monkey lunchbox and then the next day 10,000 orders came in," said Theobald. "It was more of a slow trajectory over time."
Today Beatrix products are featured in stores located in 30 states and 32 countries around the world. The pair suspects that the expansion of the brand to those stores, notably many retailers in Hollywood, is how the company has been able to become a favorite of many celebrity moms.
Growth, however, has not simply come domestically. This year, international sales are expected to make up between 40 percent and 50 percent of overall sales, according to Theobald. The secret behind this growth is not a surprise to the business partners.
"It has been very helpful to have celebrities giving us their accidental backing," said Woolcott. "There was never a spike in sales, but I think it has becomes a proof point. Buyers overseas and buyers in America are looking for some kind of vote of confidence on a brand, and when they see a celebrity who is able to buy anything they want carrying a certain product, they think that it must be good and cool. Especially since they are style-makers."