Jul 17, 2007

Celebrities as dream clients? Think again

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My heart bleeds for showbiz couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto (and even Korina Sanchez — but let’s wait for her to return from abroad first) since their names are now being dragged in this FrancSwiss networking scam exposé.

While they may have recruited other people into joining FrancSwiss (that is the nature of the pyramid business), the bottom-line is — they are also victims here.

It’s just unfortunate that members of the showbiz profession are the most used and abused in this world. Marketing agents use them and their names to bait clients and when everything else goes wrong, all fingers point to them.

Selling a product? Use a celebrity to help push it in the market. Even those who are not the official image models of a particular product get to endorse it because sales people make sure that everyone else knows that this and that celebrity has patronized what they sell by spreading the word around.

But are celebrities really the dream clients? Yes and no. Here are some words of advice to sales and marketing people.

• Stop thinking that all celebrities have money. Never since the last World War (when everyone stopped making films) and the early days of martial law (when TV stations were shut down) was business this bad for showbiz people. Thanks to television for keeping most people in entertainment afloat, but most movie stars have to make do with independent films that pay so little — you’ll weep when you find out the exact amount. While the more visible ones may have something to spare, that’s about your market. If everyone in this profession has money, why do we see businessmen running after their celebrity-clients every so often through showbiz talk shows?

• Don’t crowd in your celebrity client. Most movie -TV stars just want to be left alone — in peace. Be of assistance, but don’t fawn. Never bring up any current issue pertaining to the celebrity client — unless he or she had just won an award or is being extolled for a noteworthy performance. Keep everything business-like.

• Don’t tell every other client that this and that celebrity bought this and that product. I remember one time I was buying clothes (this was before I got to endorse the clothing line Jewels) at a large department and was particularly interested in one knitted shirt when the sales clerk told me as a sales pitch that Chiz Escudero (then still a congressman) bought exactly that a few days earlier. I immediately dropped it for fear that we may end up attending a function wearing exactly the same shirt and the last thing I want to do is sing a duet with him in one of Lily Monteverde’s parties. Actually, it’s not all that bad for men. At the Urian Awards last year, I went to the affair and bumped into a nominee (in the technical categories) wearing exactly the same suit (from Tango & Merger). We just laughed about it and gamely posed for pictures. I guess it would have been a totally different scenario had it involved women.

• Don’t think that people would necessarily want to move into a neighborhood just because a celebrity lives there. When you go on a tripping in search of properties, don’t you ever get annoyed when the real estate agents keep harping about how this and that celebrity also bought into the same building or the same community? That may work for some people, but not from those in showbiz who may want to guard their privacy. Actually, it all depends on the kind of celebrity who had bought earlier. If it’s a respectable name, well, that ups the value of the property. But if it’s a one-hit wonder of a starlet, forget it. The trouble with this media crazy world today, however, is that even those whose names became known through their notoriety are also being used to push any product in the market.

• Never volunteer information about a previous client. That tale about how this husband had to buy another refrigerator because the wife found out — through the appliance store clerk — that the hubby had bought one for the mistress is not just some tall tale. This is true and it happens all the time — all because the sales clerks couldn’t keep their mouth shut. This, keep your peephole closed all the time rule should be strictly enforced especially among employees of flower shops.

• Sell a good product and keep you service impeccable and you’ll never need a celebrity endorser to push it. Word gets around fast in this town. Even if you go full blast with your advertising and use the biggest names in the showbiz profession, but if what you sell is rotten, then your product will stink. Having a celebrity client can be a catch. But it has its downside, too. If your celebrity client isn’t all that happy with your product or service, hope and pray that celebrity client doesn’t go to town and make noise about it.

• To the buying public, never think that movie-TV celebrities always make the right choices. If they do, why do they keep changing spouses all the time?
Butch Francisco
Philippine Star

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