Michael Jordan and Nike. Justin Bieber and Calvin Klein. Kendall Jenner and Pepsi. There are some influencer-brand partnerships that fly under the radar, we scroll past them every day without a second thought or glance. Then there are the flashy, big name partnerships (like the ones mentioned above) that are impossible to ignore. These big deals, as obvious as they may be now that they are years in the making, did not start off as smash Influencer success stories.
Even celebrity and enterprise-tier campaigns start out as ideas tossed out during a brainstorming session and strategized meticulously over months of campaign prep. Creating successful influencer-brand partnerships at any level requires thoughtful design, writing cohesive copy that pops, and staying true to the core beliefs of both the influencer and brand to boost the credibility and awareness of each party. Big-name partnerships are known to be worth the cost, too. Marketwatch reports a 4% bump in stock price after a company announces signing a celebrity endorser.
Of course, not every influencer-brand partnership can be as much of a hit as the ever-popular celebrity-centered “Got Milk?” campaign that anyone who lived through the early 2000s is more than familiar with. (#GotMilk was actually recently trending on Twitter when @GotMilk revealed a new partnership with actor Simu Liu and No Kid Hungry.)
But without taking the necessary time to properly align your campaign with your target audience, create compelling social content, and ensure that the Influencer you choose is the right partner for your brand, your campaign might end up a dud.
Biggest Influencer Brand Deals
The majority of influencer brand deals happen quietly and could easily go unnoticed by those who don’t follow the right Influencers on the right platforms. Then there are the celebrity partnerships that would be impossible to miss, like in 2016 when Kylie Jenner signed a $1 million deal with Puma and the partnership announcement alone made headlines for weeks.
The biggest influencer brand deals— the ones that make headlines, the ones that are flashy and oversized, the ones that forever associate the celebrity with the brand in our minds— these are the ones that most successfully integrate the traits of the celebrity that the public recognizes with brands that share their beliefs. As is true with partnerships with Influencers of any tier, forced or inorganic enterprise-level campaigns stick out like a sore thumb to audiences.
The best campaigns never steer away from the ethos of the brand or the celebrity, and instead, embrace what the public already appreciates about both. This inclusive approach leads to more cohesive partnerships, with higher long-term success rates. Let’s take a look at how some of the biggest, most successful influencer-brand partnerships pulled it off.
Top Celebrity Partnerships for a Good Cause
A-Rod & Old Navy
Retired Yankee Alex Rodriquez has had a storied career and a long history of fruitful brand partnerships. When he partnered with Old Navy to incentivize shoppers to help raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of America they worked together to raise over $1 million on Black Friday alone.
Why it worked: Not only was this campaign able to benefit a great cause, but it was also beneficial for both Old Navy and Rodriquez as well. Sure, the campaign helped Old Navy make millions of sales, but it also helped spread brand awareness and positivity. Meanwhile, Rodriquez was able to show the world a new, altruistic side of himself. Partnering for a good cause is always a good idea, and partnering with a celebrity is a sure-fire way to ensure your good cause has as wide of an audience as possible.
Matthew McConaughey & Wild Turkey
Matthew McConaughey has been in the national spotlight since the early 1990s and along the way, he has made a name for himself not just as a successful actor, but as a faithful brand partner. Take his partnership with Kentucky distillery Wild Turkey, for example. Through this partnership, McConaughey was not only able to create his own line of bourbon, but they also worked together to prepare and deliver turkey dinners to first responders in Los Angeles, Dallas, New Orleans, and Chicago. As well as donating $50,000 to Operation Barbecue Relief to further support these first responders.
Why it worked: Sometimes all it takes to bring a for-good organization into the national spotlight is help from a celebrity partner, especially when that partner is willing to put in the elbow work themselves. During this partnership, McConaughey personally delivered more than 4,500 turkeys to residents and the local food bank, showing his community and the Wild Turkey community that doing good is always worth it.
Top Brand Deals for Instagram
Jennifer Aniston & Smart Water
Sometimes, the success of a big-name brand partnership lies in the ability to use the partnership as a way to showcase a never-before-seen side of the celebrity. Jennifer Aniston’s partnership with Smart Water was one of the most recognized brand relationships for the entirety of its 12-year run.
Jennifer was seen with Smart Water on billboards, commercials, in paparazzi photos, and seemingly everywhere except Instagram. This wasn’t a big surprise, Aniston has publicly declared her disinterest in social media many times before. So, when she finally did appear on Smart Water’s Instagram page to promote the brand, the act alone was enough to bring increased awareness and a new, younger audience to Smart Water.
Why it worked: Only a truly powerful brand partnership is strong enough to entice one of the biggest A-list celebrities in the world to show a new side of themself. Because they started their partnership in 2007 before Instagram became the globally popular platform it is today, pivoting late in their partnership to embrace the platform was a risk. And with Smart Water reportedly being worth $830 million in 2019, it was a risk that was worth it to take.
Michelle Wie & Nike
Source: @michellewiewest on Instagram
When a buzzy new athlete begins making waves, one of the first questions the public has about them is which athletic wear company is going to scoop them up as a brand ambassador first. This is exactly what happened with golf pro Michelle Wie West when she became the youngest player in history to qualify for an LPGA Tour at age 15. Eventually, she signed a partnership deal with Nike for close to $5 million a year in a joint effort to attract more women to the historically male-dominated sport of golf.
Why it worked: No celebrity-brand partnership ever feels more obvious than that between a professional athlete and a fitness wear company. This was true of the Wie-Nike partnership when it was first announced in 2005 and is still true today, as they enter the 16th year of their partnership. Most recently, their partnership involved a Holiday Giveaway promotion to highlight Nike’s signature golf line.
Top TikTok Brand Deals
Charli D’Amelio & Dunkin Donuts
Source: @charlidamelio on TikTok
It would be hard to talk about enterprise tier TikTok brand deals without mentioning the Gen Z influencer-turned-celebrity, teenager Charli D’Amelio. Since beginning their partnership, D’Amelio has sold hundreds of thousands of her signature drink “The Charli” and inspired a 57% spike in Dunkin Donuts app downloads— all by simply incorporating the coffee brand into her usual TikTok content.
Why it worked: By allowing Charli to have creative control over how she endorses Dunkin Donuts, the brand is able to reach a wider audience in a highly authentic way. (And if there’s one thing we know about the Gen Z audience, it’s that they love authentic influencers.) On the surface, a coffee brand that’s been around since the 1950s isn’t an obvious match for one of the biggest overnight TikTok successes of all time. But by incorporating their familiar branding into her unique, signature TikTok videos Charli is able to expose the brand to an entirely new, untapped audience.
To give your next campaign new life, consider partnering with an enterprise-tier Influencer. And if you’re looking to revamp your approach to campaigns entirely, here’s our Platform-Agnostic Influencer Marketing Platform Approach.