Many people holding up their phones and filming a concert
Many people holding up their phones and filming a concert

How to Get a Celebrity Endorsement Even for a Small Business

Paul Kiernan

A celebrity endorsement has long been an effective driver of consumer purchase intention. Their curated public image and fame engender trust in consumers, and that trust goes a long way to getting people to purchase the product or service they endorse.

We love celebrities. We love to read gossip about them, haunt their Twitter feeds, and live and die with their mistakes and triumphs. We take personal ownership of certain celebrities and stand by them through thick and thin. Because of this, celebrity endorsements, be they actors, athletes, comedians, musicians, book authors, and the like, is money in the bank.

A celebrity endorsement has long been an effective driver of consumer purchase intention. Their curated public image and fame engender trust in consumers, and that trust goes a long way to getting people to purchase the product or service they endorse.

Why are celebrity endorsements so effective

An endorsement by a celebrity can build brand credibility and expose your brand to new markets, which is known as the celebrity effect. This phenomenon showcases the famous person's ability to influence buyers and bring new people to the table that you, as a business, may never have even considered. Harnessing this power and influential voice allows companies to boost their brand and spotlight their products or services. Celebrities can add credibility to a burgeoning brand and glamor to an ad campaign.

A caution here, as social media has put the once cloistered and carefully curated celebrity image under the microscope. Now, if you’re associating your brand with a major celeb, your band could take a hit if the celebrity falls off the public pedestal. Kanye West, aka Ye, is a prime example of this. So, be careful when choosing a celebrity to pursue when looking for an endorsement.

A celebrity endorsement can make you stand out, get your commercials remembered, and push your brand into the stratosphere.

Getting the endorsement

It sounds wonderful; you have a new brand and excellent products, and you’ll get someone famous to wear your gear, drink your energy beverage or drive your car. Sweet, the public will be lining up to make you a gazillionaire.

Sadly, it’s not that easy. Most celebrities are surrounded by managers, agents, publicists, bodyguards, and people whispering in their ears that they are not mere mortals and only the very chosen few should be allowed access to their wonderfulness. In other words, you cannot just ring one up on the phone and say, here’s my snack cake; tell the world it’s delicious.

Getting a celeb to endorse your product is easier if you're a huge company like Nike. But for small companies or fledgling brands, not having connections to agents and managers makes getting the celeb a little more complicated. Not impossible, just a little more difficult.

Here’s how to get a product into the hands of a celebrity without an agent.

Figure out a budget

A pink stuffed pig

Before you start looking for the perfect celebrity to endorse your product, you must put a budget together and stick to that budget. Being with famous people can make some folks lose their perspective, get all fanboy, and suddenly the carefully constructed budget goes out the window, and profits get eaten up because someone on your team has a celebrity crush. Make a budget, and stay on budget.

It will cost. According to Celebrity, A-list actors can expect to be paid anywhere between $500,000 and $2 million, depending on the commercial, when it airs, and the celebrity. For more details, look at FamePick, a platform that provides a searchable marketplace and connects businesses of any size with celebrities for endorsement.

Who is your target audience

Before you run out and commit a ton of cash to a celebrity, you’ll want to take time and identify your target audience. This would also be an excellent time to research and define your buying personas.

Having a celebrity endorse your brand is good, but only if it is the right celebrity. So, ask yourself, who do you want to reach? Where are those people engaging the most? What size audience are you looking to reach? And what type of audience do you want to focus on? Know all this and be sure about it before you approach a celebrity.

Again, finding a match for your audience, personas, and type is vital. Who you partner with will say a lot about your brand, and picking the wrong celebrity can damage your brand.

People who are passionate about your brand

Don’t become hypnotized by celebrity; it can bite you in the ass. Any celebrity won’t do. Ideally, you’ll want to find someone who gets what you’re trying to do and is passionate about your mission, product, or service.

A passionate celebrity will be more believable and trustworthy when they talk about your brand and products. The less they have to fake it or “act,” the more people will connect with them, and the better it will be for your brand. Also, you’ll have an easier time pitching to them if they believe in what you’re offering to the public. Anything that makes it easier for the celebrity to get behind what you’re offering, the better your chances of landing a celebrity.

Approach a micro-influencer

A micro-influencer is a social media influencer with between 1000 and 10,000 followers. These folks are more cost-effective than major celebrities and may have more influence. In a Hubspot survey, 82% of responders stated they would likely buy something from a micro-influencer.

Micro-influencers are trustworthy, usually passionate about what they promote, and tend to have substantial influence in their niche markets. They cost less than an A-list celebrity and are easier to approach.

If you can find a micro-influencer that checks all the same boxes as your target audience, you have the potential to forge a robust and lucrative partnership.

Social media influencers

A wall with a heart and the number one painted on it, with a woman's hand holding a phone under it.

Almost everyone has some contact with at least one social media platform. 79% of the population has at least one social media account; most have two or three. This is a rich platform to find someone to promote your brand.

Especially for small businesses and nascent brands, social media is a great place to find that social media influencer who can promote your brand truthfully and with the passion it needs to be seen.

How to contact a celebrity

If your celebrity is A or B list, they will have an agent, in which case any conversation will have to include the agent. If they do not have an agent, the next step is to contact their manager.

If the celeb has both an agent and a manager, there will be no need to contact both, and in the hierarchy of Hollywood, an agent takes precedence over a manager, so contact the agent first.

You’ll discuss the details of your project with the agent. That means all your paperwork needs to be in order, know your target audience have a good "why" for your project, and be able to specifically communicate why that particular celebrity is the right person for the job. The more specific you can be, the better.

Knowing which top five celebrities you want to be part of your project is wise. Research them as deeply as possible and find all possible connections between them and your brand. Does the celebrity donate to specific charities? Do they have pet projects that are in line with your brand? Make sure you have as much information in your hands as possible; information is power, and celebrities like to know you want them for more than just their fame and good looks.

You can find who represents the celebrity you’re interested in by searching on

How to pay for this

Once you’ve spoken to an agent or manager, and the celebrity is onboard, you will have to discuss how to pay for their services. Here, you have four options: per hour, per action, by commission, or by equity. Let’s quickly look at these.

Per hour

The per-hour rate is prevalent now. The celebrity will require transportation to and from the shoot site and lodging if there are a few days of shooting. You will also agree to the number of hours shooting per day. In most cases, if the celebrity is passionate about your project, they won’t mind staying a few extra hours to get the shot right. Do not count on this; however, welcome it if it happens. Know that agents and managers will push you to hurry and get it done.

Per action

In this scenario, you pay the celebrity to post one story or video. This will cost you a lot less than having a celebrity employ a constant presence on social media for your brand. Having a celebrity make one or two posts with great content and a strong belief in your brand can pay off well in the long run.


In this situation, your celebrity may opt for back-end compensation. This means they will take a reduced rate upfront for their time and do a joint venture with you, meaning they will receive profits from the campaign and sales generated due to their involvement.


With small and medium-sized businesses, chances are you won’t be listed on the stock market. However, if they believe in what you’re selling and feel good about you, a celebrity may ask for a stake in the company for a term in exchange for what they bring to the table. In this situation, the celebrity may be looking for more of a connection with your brand, and they can help you shape how you use them and their influence.

Keep in mind

A monkey sitting and thinking

Celebrities have a million hands on their time and even more, voices whispering in their ears. If you’re going after a celebrity endorsement, you must have your shit together and make it hard for the celebrity to say no after they look at what you’ve got to offer the public. You’ll have limited time, so make it count.

ThoughtLab can help

If you stopped at target audience and buyer personas and thought, what in the name of all that’s good and holy is that? Then come to us.

At ThoughtLab, we can help you discover your ideal target audience, help you create buyer personas, and get you ready to bring your A-game to the celebrity of your choice. ThoughtLab can help you see further, which may include seeing yourself in a meeting with an A-list celebrity.

Contact ThoughtLab for a free consultation, and let’s get your brand seen.