Last month, we saw Taylor Swift take on technology giant Apple over its decision not to pay writers, producers or artists during the trial period for its new music streaming service Apple Music. Writing an open letter expressing her concerns, Swift went on to threaten that she wouldn’t make her new album 1989 available on the live streaming website. The move prompted a reversal of the decision by Apple, who agreed to pay the royalty rate to artists during the trial.
Some cynical Twitter users were quick to remark on the speed of Apple’s U-turn and how Swift and Apple have conveniently emerged as the good guys; Swift as the conscientious defender of struggling artists and Apple as the tech giant who cares. Putting questions over the letters authenticity to one side, Taylor Swift’s open letter serves to remind us of the influence we place on celebrity endorsements in society today.
It is not just in the music arena where celebrities can be influencers and whip up a PR storm, there are great examples across different industries. In January 2015, for example, it was revealed that Charlotte Crosby’s fitness DVD became the biggest selling workout DVD, despite no real fitness qualification. Similarly, public figures such as The Duchess of Cambridge have been a PR hit in the fashion industry. The ‘Kate effect’ has widely been acknowledged as putting British fashion on the international stage, with stores such as LK Bennett benefiting considerably, having recently opened a Manhattan flagship store.
Recently, Rhianna and Gwyneth Paltrow, amongst others, have propelled Coconut water into the spotlight, citing its nutritional and health benefits. Following the new craze, Innocent, famous for its healthy smoothies, launched a coconut water to compete with other brands such as Vita Coco, a move clearly prompted by new celebrity trends and changing consumer demands.
Harnessed correctly, such endorsements can prove to be a powerful PR tool for brands, helping raise awareness and reaching a wide audience. Celebrities have a great deal of power, so much so that even giant brands like Apple deem it necessary to tread carefully when confronted by an angry one.