This was written as a tongue-in-cheek companion piece to “What Celebrities Have Taught Me About Branding” – the longer article can be found below this one. Hope you enjoy. Just have a read of this handy “Working With Celebrity Brands 101” and you’ll be ready for your next in-studio celebrity photo shoot.
1. When working with celebrities to market television or feature film programming, it’s important to remember that celebrities are way funnier, way more dramatic, and much better writers that YOU ever will be. Expect lots of revisions and plenty of complete rewrites. Headline, copy, script … the works. And if you happen to think you’ve captured the celebrity brand “voice” – guess again. No one, and I repeat no one is funnier, or more clever than the celeb that you are writing for. They know their own brand and buster you ain’t going to monkey with it.
2. Concepts get in the way of the brand. And the brand has to look good. So forget the ad concept my friends. See above. You will never be allowed to be more clever than the brand.
3. Never presume that what you think looks good to the naked eye will look good to the celebrity eye. That perfect, beautifully retouched, every wrinkle removed and 20 pounds exorcised by Photoshop glossy will NEVER be good enough. And remember this – talent gets 50% right of refusal on the stills. So you only have a 50% chance of getting your photoshoot right in the first place. The brand image is not to be tinkered with by the likes of you.
4. Don’t come to work without eyeglasses – even if your vision is 20/20. See above and be prepared to receive copious notes, written in teeny tiny hand-written script on several post-it notes – all relating to the “hero” shot. Your celeb will have consulted his or her brand posse and everyone from their hair and make-up person, to their personal trainer to their dog walker will have weighed in on the brand. Brand image is everything.
5. When scheduling photo shoots, never begin your talent’s day before 11 am. Puffy, puffy, puffy. Pul-ease! There simply aren’t enough Post-it notes in this world to capture the indignity done to the under-eye area. The brand needs its beauty sleep.
6. Never presume that you know, understand, or can imagine your talent’s character with wardrobe. No matter what you image the celeb would wear in your shoot, it will never be right so just don’t bother. They know the character. They know what the character would/wouldn’t wear. It’s a no win situation. For you. The brand always wins. Game. Set. Match.
7. Many make the mistake of worrying about craft services at shoots. For those not familiar with the lingo, craft services is the Roman banquet set up for cast and crew to satisfy their every craving for food and beverage. Even a “substantial snack” is provided for. If not a groaning tableau of candy, salty snacks, muffins and danish, donuts, breakfast burritos, nuts, cheeses and crackers plus fresh fruits isn’t enough to satiate … guess again. The celebrity will not touch the repast. All that grub is there for the agent, the publicist, hair and make-up and the personal assistant. A delicate sip of water may be witnessed. The brand doesn’t eat in public.
8. Asking for an autograph is akin to flatulence in public. It’s unseemly and you will be escorted from the set. This brand doesn’t really like to interact with its public unless there is a photo op scheduled.
9. Expect to be ignored on set.
10. If the television ratings/opening box office is disappointing, you can bet your bottom dollar that the finger of blame will not be aimed at the talent, crappy script, or badly edited body of work, that finger of blame will swing around in a complete 180, and will point directly at you, your perviously award-winning ad campaign. The brand is blameless. And the brand is fickle. But the brand is always right.