Celebrity endorsements on social media: seven tips for navigating the right of publicity

By James Stewart

Social media makes building a brand easy: the tools are laid out in front of you, ready to launch your company to worldwide fame with a click of the mouse. Craft a few irreverent tweets, refresh the company Facebook page and voilà: you instantly have the power to engage consumers on a level never before possible, without the constraints of old-line paradigms.

In the real world, it’s not that simple. As with any emerging medium, the always-on world of social media generates risks for brand owners every minute. While these risks are not always predictable, experience provides guidance on some issues brands may face. Among these questions: how far can you leverage the names and images of celebrities when promoting your brand online?

The allure of celebrity endorsement is clear. Celebrities have captivated the public for decades. Savvy businesses understand that this cultural fascination affects consumer choices. But absent an explicit endorsement arrangement, leveraging the power of celebrity to shape consumer perception in a brand’s favour has always required a careful balancing act, particularly because of ‘right of publicity’ statutes passed by a number of US states…

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