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How I got celebrities to endorse my fashion brand, and how you can too

Richard Branson

William Adoasi, founder and CEO of UK wristwatch company Vitae London, explains how he managed to get celebrities to endorse his brand, and how you can do the same.

If you’re a startup with very little money it’s hard to imagine getting celebrities to endorse your brand to help you promote your fledgling business. The good news is that it is possible, providing you take the right steps.

We’ve gained endorsements from a wide range of celebrities despite being a new company in a very crowded sector – high-end watches.

So, how did we do it, and how can you get celebrities to endorse your brand?

Which celebrities?

Our plan was to find celebrities who shared similar interests to us –fashion, watches and children’s charities, particularly in Africa. What’s more, followers of these celebrities often share similar values, making them our perfect target audience.

When you’ve identified the celebrities you believe may be interested, get in touch with them via social media or email – whichever your research tells you is likely to work best. Follow up if you don’t get a reply immediately but don’t spam them. Now may not be the right time.

Be clear about your USP

You need to be able to summarise your business’ value proposition in a clear and compelling way. This is particularly important when talking to celebrities who are constantly bombarded with products and brands. If you want them to pick your brand from the crowd, you need to make it easy. Let them pick up on the excitement of your proposition.

For us, it’s the charity element. We support local South African charity House of Wells in their mission to get poorer kids into education. But we don’t talk about “giving 10% to charity”, because it lacks tangibility. We talk about giving kids two school uniforms. Each watch purchased from Vitae London’s classic range of watches supplies a child with two sets of school uniform, a bag and footwear to see them through the year, allowing them to attend school and get an education. People can picture a kid at school and what that means to that child and their family.

My advice would be to pin down what makes you unique and develop a clear value proposition before going out to celebrities for endorsements. This will make it easier to identify celebrities who align with your brand and makes your messaging to them simple and effective.

Keep going – attract attention

Vitae grew, we supplied more school uniforms to children in Africa than ever before, and soon Richard Branson took notice and I became a Virgin Startup Ambassador. Branson seemed impressed with the business idea and the watches themselves, and has personally endorsed the brand on several occasions.

When I first met Branson, I forgot to take a watch with me to give to him and I was gutted at my missed opportunity. But a few months ago I spoke on a panel with him and, this time, I made triple-sure that I took a watch with me. I gave him the watch in front of a live audience and, in turn, he not only paid for the watch with a wad of cash, but he also gave me his own watch in exchange!

It was a great moment and one I’m fortunate to have captured on camera. No doubt that will go down as one of the high points of my career!

Really, though, sometimes it’s simply about being in the right place at the right time and grabbing the opportunity. I’m a man of faith so I can only explain it as the hand of God, but I’ve had some lucky and surprising encounters. If you happen to bump into someone, in a club, in a restaurant, wherever, take the opportunity to talk to them if you can.

Believe in what you’re doing

If I had to sum up my advice in a single word it would be: belief. If you truly believe in what you’re doing, that energy, that enthusiasm will become infectious. Everyone you meet and speak to about your idea will share your excitement and, most importantly, will come to believe in you as well. And celebrities are just like other customers – if they believe in you and your brand, they will support you.

For more branding-related articles and advice, visit the marketing section of UKTN.