A few of the Kazoo team went along this week to the exhibition marking Grazia’s birthday celebrations as the glossy celebrity and fashion weekly turns ten. Apart from making us feel a bit old (!) it was a chance to reminisce at some of the news stories the magazine has broken, the beautiful fashion items that have been featured, and the celebrities that have been featured on its pages since 2005. As part of the birthday celebrations, Grazia hosted a series of Ten Talks, one of which was The Changing Face of Celebrity, hosted by Gaby Roslin and featuring celebrity photographer Dave Benett, One Direction’s PR Simon Jones, fashion creative and journalist Mandi Lennard, and Cocos Tea Party blogger Ella Gregory. They mulled over how the concept of celebrity news exploded ten years ago, and how Grazia was placed in the right place at the right time to bring the gossip to readers on a weekly basis.
There was the feeling amongst the panel that people are increasingly becoming aware of how brands use celebrities, and how stars themselves use their fame. Simon Jones used the example of his clients, One Direction having a kick about with a football a few weeks ago and were photographed by the paparazzi. As the story hit the papers, there was a flurry of speculation from the public and the band’s fans about which brand this might have been for and how the ‘publicity stunt’ must have been set up. This is unsurprising, and brands are constantly having to find ways to use celebrity in a cleverer way, avoiding celebrity endorsement for the sake of it. Shoe-horning in messaging or selecting just a pretty face to promote a product now not only proves a nightmare for PRs, but runs the risk of the brand losing credibility in the eyes of an ever more scrutinising public. Seamless endorsement through celebrity customers and genuine product placement is getting more and more valuable.
A tactic that brands are turning to in recent times is a new breed of celebrity – the social media star. Young, engaging ‘acts’ that have followers of millions on YouTube and Instagram can now speak instantly to the people who love them, reaching a captive audience in a credible way. Just last week, Samsung launched the exciting new Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, something that Kazoo worked on at the YouTube studios. By using social influencers The Sidemen and Ali A to talk to millions of fans on their social channels, the news of the new handsets spread like wildfire, with one of the pictures posted by The Sidemen receiving almost 30,000 likes in a matter of hours. These social celebrities are experts in their field who can engage on a level with smaller yet spot-on target audiences. Be it the likes of The Sidemen who produce hilarious videos just for fun, or Deliciously Ella, the raw food blogger whose recipes have earned her almost half a million fans on Instagram, and a lucrative book deal, brands now have the chance to work with credible endorsers. As long as the brand is right for the influencer and it’s not over-worked, this credible endorsement seems like one of the successful ways forward for brand endorsement by this new breed of celebrity.
With social media as popular as ever, traditional media no longer have to wait for their ‘scoop’. Celebrities update followers with their every move so content in the print titles will be forced to move in a different direction. If Kim Kardashian dyes her hair peroxide blonde on the Thursday, then what will heat magazine write about the following Tuesday? We’ve already seen Madonna take a tumble via Twitter, so is there any point in Closer magazine reporting it? In my opinion there’s no substitute for a glossy magazine read but writers constantly have to find new angles and ways to explore the stories already broken on social media.
So what’s next in the world of celebrity?
With the rise of reality stars, it seems easy to get your 15 minutes of fame. Celebrity PR Simon Jones discussed how somebody can be plucked from obscurity, but if photographed with the right people wearing the right thing, and with a few well timed stories in the gossip columns, ‘Joe Public’ could become famous. So will we get bored? Will we continue to question the transparency and celebrity of these reality stars, famous for nothing more than appearing on TV shows? Or will Kim and her sisters, the TOWIE goings on, and the X Factor runners up still continue to be the UK’s guilty pleasure?