Why Buying a Celebrity Is Like Buying a House

[Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the opportunity to hear and meet David Schwab in person at the eBev 2014 conference.]


Why Buying a Celebrity Is Like Buying a House
By David Schwab


Few people ever get the opportunity to hire a celebrity to be a brand spokesperson and/or endorser. Yet, if you have ever purchased a home, you have encountered (and overcome) many of the same issues faced by buyers in the celebrity marketplace. Our experience in matching celebrities and brands has revealed some parallels between buyers in our world and those in the real estate arena. Here are some of our tips:



1.     Don’t fall in love:…at least not right away. Home buyers and brands have an edge they might not realize:  Both have the ability to choose from the universe of what is “for sale.” So, beware of falling in love with a celebrity, especially the first one you see, because:

a.   There may be a better one out there.

b.   You may extend an offer that is declined.

c.   You are typically better prepared to present an offer after you understand the marketplace (and have thoroughly reviewed multiple homes and celebrities).

2.   When it comes to price, it’s all about “location, location, location”:

In real estate, the ZIP code is very important, but there are other intangibles that affect price — neighborhood, the homeowner’s urgency to sell, time of year, and the type of people selling. I’m sure you’ve seen homes in the same neighborhood with similar physical characteristics, but different prices, causing you to scratch your head. The celebrity world is similar. Level of interest in the celebrity, the agent/manager who represents him/her, the category of the product you are asking the celebrity to promote and the turnaround time for getting a deal done all may influence the price. It’s okay to pay more than you would on another house/celebrity as long as what you’re buying meets your needs, and the value outweighs the cost.

3.   Evaluate the pros and cons of each selection:

Write down everything that is good and bad about the house or celebrity. Choose five pros and five cons – and rank those according to what is most important to you. This exercise will help identify deal-breaking issues and help you comparison shop. (You can even go deeper with criteria tools but at a minimum, this list is imperative).

4. Must have vs. Nice to have:

Along the same lines, identify “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” in terms of talent services, just as home buyers would identify number of bathrooms or even types of counter-tops. This forces clients to put serious thought about their priorities. In closing a celebrity deal or finding the right house, it’s about give and take, and this exercise makes you realize that you may not get 100% of the items on your wish list…but also that you do not need the entire wish list either.

5.   Try to bring out hidden character / potential:

Be creative in your decision making. The trick in making “the house work” or the “program click” can be as simple as adding some “curb appeal” by putting some paint on the front door or creating some cool new message points for the celebrity.

6.   Don’t go at it alone:

Some home buyers and brand marketers bet they can buy a house and a celebrity themselves…and some are right. But these shoppers are the minority. In most cases, it will be important to get references from friends or colleagues about experts in the celebrity space who can assist with the process. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate among consultants, and word of mouth is a great tool. Buying a house or a celebrity is a huge financial investment, and having a partner can ease the process and protect your interests. We — like our brethren in real estate — are necessary (and not evil).  We live in this space 24/7 and will have updated information / tips for you that will lead to a great closing.

After 10 years of marketing, selling and publicizing celebrity talent, David Schwab recognized a gap in the marketplace: the need for brands and non-profit organizations to better understand how to use celebrities in consumer marketing and business-to-business programs. So he created Octagon First Call, the company’s celebrity acquisition and engagement division. Schwab and his team educate companies and non-profit organizations on the proper use of celebrity talent, then advise them on how to get the most value out of their partnership.