Just as important as choosing the right endorser or spokesperson is knowing how to protect and maximize that investment, and in some cases minimize the damage your endorser may have created.
In a previous article, we focused on the positive impact an endorser or spokesperson can have on your local media campaign and how to select the right endorsement partner. However, the issues brands faced with Paula Dean highlight the downside of the endorser/advertiser relationship. All the good will and positive feelings can be washed away in one fell swoop when your brand’s “celebrity” hits send after composing an ill-contrived or untimely tweet.
If you feel you’ve chosen the right person for your business or are considering signing on the dotted line with an endorser, there are ways to protect your investment and enable you to recover, should expectations and obligations go unfulfilled.
Breaking it down to the simplest of terms, there are a couple items that should always be flushed out between endorser and client before engaging in a partnership:
1. Require an Ethics and/or Morality Clause
This may seem like a “no-brainer,” but these clauses are not as simple as they used to be and need to be more far-reaching in nature to include social media.
Even if you’ve had a long-standing relationship with a “reputable” partner, one can no longer assume you’re on the same page or that the endorser won’t commit “twittercide” after having a bad day on the job. Just because your local business doesn’t employ the likes of Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods, if you’ve hung your star on someone’s status, you can also be riding that star when it falls to earth.
Be as clear with expectations and verbiage as possible. Personally, I see it like a dinner party or when meeting a new acquaintance… stay away from politics and religion. These topics cannot be simplified down to 300 characters or expounded upon in a 60-second radio interview. Just ask Chipper Jones, an Atlanta radio personality who tweeted his opinion on immigration, effecting current and pending agreements with local advertisers.
Ask your legal counsel to draft the agreement. They’ll be able to help employ this latest terminology and verbiage to protect you and your business against these type of unforeseen events.
2. Develop a Plan of Action
If you’ve done your homework, you should know a great deal and more about the spokesperson you’ve chosen to represent your local business. When “vetting” this individual or group, you should note the company they keep and be aware of any possible issues or questionable history. If there is ever poor publicity or questions asked of your business, a thorough response should be ready to go. While you can’t predict the future, you can hedge your bets and be prepared.
Also, speaking/copy points for social media should be provided in addition to speaking engagements or public appearances. Know what your threshold is for pulling your ads and terminating a contract.
While there is no way to ensure your celebrity spokesperson or endorser is going to be a loyal and faithful servant, you can help protect your investment by clearing stating and putting in writing your morality and ethics requirements, as well as developing a “Plan B” should the relationship not go as planned.