A key component of broadcast advertising and PR is the selection of a powerful brand ambassador. But what is a brand ambassador?
Put simply, a brand ambassador is a popular public figure who supports a brand. The use of brand ambassadors is designed to affect the consciousness of a target audience and their purchasing intention. Through their own reputation, they raise the profile and direct attention towards using a product or service.
One of the most famous historical uses of a brand ambassador was during the First World War, with the well-known “Lord Kitchener Wants You” poster. However, the use of brand ambassadors actually stretches back to the 19th century. In the UK, companies would send their products to the Royal family. If they were to continue to use those products over a prolonged period, the Royal Warrant Holders Association would grant Royal Warrants of Appointment. A great example of this is luxury automobile company Bentley.
A brand ambassador is an effective promotional tool used by companies to communicate with their audience. Broadcast PR consultants work diligently to select suitable brand ambassadors and will typically consider the following factors to make the right selection:
1) A public figure who is an existing supporter of a product or service
If someone is already behaving as an unofficial ambassador, there is a strong incentive for that person to align with that brand. Alternatively, there could be an alignment of interests. For example, a public figure well known for their interest or involvement in a particular activity is pursued by a brand that offers a service or product for that activity.
The most famous instance of this is Michael Jordan and Nike. To this day, Nike continues to release Jordan-branded sportswear, which has propelled Nike to be one of the leading brands for sports equipment – and has made Michael Jordan a billionaire.
On the other hand, during a press conference for an international football match, Cristiano Ronaldo removed a well-known carbonated drink in front of him and advocated water instead; this resulted in a temporary drop in the brand’s share price.
2) Suitability of the public figure
A broadcast PR team will choose an ambassador that aligns with the brand. In the example given above, Michael Jordan was a model professional athlete as well as being a user of Nike products. During his time at the top of his profession and with the world’s media watching his every move, he attracted very little controversy. For the brands associated with him, this was a perfect combination.
3) Knowledge about the product or service
Broadcast advertising and PR can rely on the credibility of its ambassador. An ambassador who is able to demonstrate detailed knowledge about a product or service allows the audience to buy into its credibility by proxy of the credibility of the ambassador. If the audience already accepts the brand ambassador as an expert in the field or space they are inhabiting, their endorsement will generate a high level of credibility as a result.
4) Experience as a commercial, public figure
Broadcast PR agencies will ensure that the chosen ambassador is experienced in gaining commercial traction and being the public face of a brand. Maintaining the quality of a product or service can be challenging enough without having to manage the pitfalls of an inconsistent brand ambassador.
A brand ambassador offers a direct route to credibility with a target audience. An experienced broadcast PR consultancy will create a brand ambassador strategy and carefully select a flag bearer that will heighten interest in a product or service.