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The Suite Life: Can Celebrity Gifting and Event Sponsorship Build a Brand?

Do entrepreneurs that leverage celebrity gifting and event sponsorship fare better than their counterparts that do not?

Celebrity seeding is big business in a digital world where one celebrity sighting or tweet can send a brand into overdrive. In the latest installment of the SUITE life by HAS Events, a series highlighting the hottest emerging brands, we’ll reveal the inside scoop on entrepreneurs leveraging celebrity gift bags and gifting suites to build their brands.

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Do entrepreneurs that leverage celebrity gifting and event sponsorship fare better than their counterparts that do not? Dallas-based accessory designer Erica Johnson, owner of boot accessory company Bootglams and Jacque Martin of Jacque M 528, a custom design leather bag and denim line, both attest to the brand benefits associated with celebrity-oriented events.

 

Leveraging Local Event Sponsorship

The two entrepreneurs met in 2011 while showcasing their wares at a local retreat hosted by Treasure You, a nonprofit organization founded by Dallas entrepreneur Pat Smith. Both women attest to the benefits of participating in a targeted gifting experience; results they say changed their businesses.

Prior to showcasing her custom leather bags at the local retreat, Jacque Martin admits that the only place customers could find her Jacque M 528 accessories was on Facebook. “It wasn’t yet a real business, but I had no choice at that point! I had to get prepared, and I had one month to do it,” Martin recalls.

Photo: Jacque Martin, Owner of Jacque M 528; Source: Courtesy Photos
Photo: Jacque Martin, Owner of Jacque M 528; Source: Courtesy Photos

Fortunately, Martin’s business savvy paid off. Utilizing an in-person event as her catalyst she soon began taking orders and turned a profit. “All it took was one celebrity endorsement and some social media, and all of my business expenses were covered,” Martin says.

Entrepreneur Erica Johnson echoes Martin’s sentiments. “Before [our participation in sponsored events] we had participated in some local trade shows, however nothing was like the response and the exposure we received …”

Johnson attributes new-found connections to her recent business growth. “We were so fortunate to meet so many wonderful women who were celebrities in both local and national markets, allowing us to make so many connections across the country,” she explains.

Photo: Bootglams; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Bootglams; Source: Courtesy Photo

Both entrepreneurs attest to the idea that local networking opportunities offered by event sponsorship can open doors that other marketing tactics cannot. As a result of her participation with in-person events, like Treasure You, Johnson seized an opportunity to participate in the NFL Wives Super Bowl XLVII Fashion Show in New Orleans the following year. “From this one event we landed two boutiques, a strong connection with the NBA Wives Association, and lots of new clients,” she exclaims.

 

Celebrity Gifting and Social Influence

Both entrepreneurs quickly learned that the acquisition of local and national celebrity customers can catapult a brand’s efforts. Forbes contributor Susan Gunelius, CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc. — a marketing communications company, suggests, “Celebrities have been endorsing brands, products and services for a very long time. However, as useful as a celebrity endorsement is for generating brand awareness, it’s not a marketing tactic that small business owners typically think they can afford.” But the world of celebrity endorsement is quickly changing.

 

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