Thu | Dec 8, 2016

GK says celebrity alliances paying off

Published:Sunday | December 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Don Wehby, group chief executive officer of GraceKennedy. - File

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

Celebrity alliances are gaining traction among local companies, and according to a Harvard study, 'The Economic Value of Celebrity Endorsements', sales for some brands have increased by up to 20 per cent upon commencing an endorsement.

The study, featuring the work of Anita Elberse, associate professor at Harvard Business School, notes that the strategy accelerates the potential for a brand to reach the conscious mind of the consumer.

Locally, Rainforest Seafoods has featured beauty queen Yendi Phillipps in its adverts, while sprinter Yohan Blake has made many Jamaicans discover a preference for Wisynco's Wata to quench their thirst.

Celebrity alliances are more popular than ever, with GraceKennedy Limited being among the most active.

Recently, GraceKenndy Group CEO Don Wehby outlined that across the group the company utilises various ambassadors "who share our values and who believe in the product and services that we offer. Seven years ago, the company signed Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as Grace brand ambassador. She is best known for her endorsement of our Grace Vienna Sausages."

Three years ago, GK signed Alaine Laughton as the ambassador for its First Global music literacy programme, Perfect Pitch for a Sound Education.

Then, two years ago, it signed Hansle Parchment as brand ambassador for Grace Aloe Drink.

In 2013, GK also signed Alia Atkinson as brand ambassador through GraceKennedy Money Services in support of its Western Union, FX Trader and Bill Express brands.

Earlier this year, subsidiary World Brands selected celebrity chef Brian Lumley to be the face of Badia spices in Jamaica.

Pressed as to the cost of those endorsements, Wehby declined to say, commenting that "all of GK's relationships with its ambassadors are subject to confidentiality agreements and as such I am unable to disclose further details on the terms".

The Harvard study of endorsements, published in 2011, states that because many firms seek to portray themselves as leaders in their markets championships by athlete endorsers strengthens both the athlete and partner brands' image as a winner.

Andrea Coy, senior general manager, Global Category Management at GK Foods Division, commenting on the company's alliance with Brian Lumley said, "There are many benefits to be received all around. On our part, due to his popularity there has been quite a buzz since he came on board. Countless enquiries have been made, everyone wants to know if Brian uses the products. Many persons simply want to be like Brian and want to test out recipes and try products he's associated with. The joint marketing efforts are mutually beneficial."

She added: "Our strategy has been to align ourselves with a successful player who we believe genuinely likes the brand and as such is able to communicate and connect with our target market. The partnership has been a success so far and Brian has been ably representing the brand wherever he goes and to the Jamaican market."

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com