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Star quality: The sparkle of celebrity marketing

16 May 2018

Angelina Jolie wears a Samer Halimeh asscher-cut diamond drop earrings of 15.15 carats to the ‘First They Killed My Father’ premiere in September 2017 at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada
Image provided by D’Orazio & Associates

Rihanna dons Le Vian ruby and diamond rings and a Dvani ruby and diamond ring at the 'Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between' Costume Institute Gala in New York City.
Image provided by D’Orazio & Associates

Lady Gaga enthralls audiences while wearing Le Vian morganite and diamond earrings during her performance at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York City
Image provided by D’Orazio & Associates

Sharon Stone wears Hueb diamond cluster earrings to the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California
Image provided by D’Orazio & Associates

Kendall Jenner dazzles in Djula black diamond earrings at the Los Angeles premiere of ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ in July last year
Image provided by D’Orazio & Associates

Amal Clooney dons a pair of diamond earrings by Gilan at the Watermark Conference for Women in San Jose, California
Image provided by D’Orazio & Associates


One of the surefire ways of tapping into a wide range of clientele – be it in the jewellery industry or any other luxury sector – is having a trusted, well-loved and admired celebrity to help market the product. JNA sits down with two celebrity marketing experts who talk about the value and effectiveness of such a marketing tactic.

More than just a glamorous way of effectively promoting a broad array of products, celebrity marketing has time and again proven successful in attracting potential buyers. In the jewellery industry, red carpet events bode well for major jewellery houses who get optimum exposure when A-list celebrities wear their latest collections. What these stars wear are often subjects of articles in luxury publications the following day.

The right celebrity can have a huge impact on sales but how do you get to the stars in the first place? Celebrity marketing specialists Ginnina D’Orazio of D’Orazio & Associates and Jen Cullen Williams of Luxury Brand Group share their expertise on the matter.

JNA: When did celebrity marketing become popular?

Ginnina D’Orazio: It started in the early 2000s and has continually grown since then. This trend will gain more momentum with the ongoing development of social media.

Jen Cullen Williams: Celebrity influence has been around for centuries, from ancient royalty to aspirational icons like Marilyn Monroe. Jewellery and fashion placement on celebrities began in the 1990s and has since developed into the landscape we know today with stylists, red carpet appearances, press junkets and the rise of social media. Celebrities and their managements will continue to use digital technology and ‘get it now’ shopping tools to connect and engage with their followers, and secure more advertising contracts. Brands will continue to pursue and pay for those types of celebrity endorsements, yet the method of how and which platforms will change over time. Right now it’s all about Instagram, but in a year or two it could be an entirely new platform.

JNA: Who are more impactful, social media influencers or celebrities?

D’Orazio: There is value in social media influencers that shouldn’t be overlooked, however celebrities have more legitimacy. There is an organic growth to their following for something they have done. They are brands themselves and when their brand aligns with a jeweller or fashion brand, their followers generally do as well.

Cullen Williams: The answer is simple; a very broad audience. A-list celebrities are highly recognisable names and have an enormous global audience and cultural impact. The audience of social media influencers tends to be more niche and specific to the type of content they produce. If you search top celebrities of 2018, you’ll likely recognise the list, whereas if you look for top digital influencers of 2018, majority of the names that will appear won’t be familiar because you don’t fit in their target clientele.

JNA: What type of celebrity marketing do clients mostly ask for?

D’Orazio: My clients ask for red carpet placements mainly because my company is known for this type of marketing. Often a stylist will place one of the brands on a celebrity, who then falls in love with the piece and the brand. Such relationships may eventually lead to an ambassadorship.

Cullen Williams: Red carpet events are the kind of brand exposure my clients seek but they also love to see their jewellery worn by celebrities during fashion editorials and shows and after-awards parties, interviews and even in a celebrity’s day-to-day outing.

JNA: Do brands have a say as to which celebrities would wear their jewellery?

D’Orazio: Yes. From the start, we are in an open dialogue with the brand for their celebrity wishlist. It’s important for us to understand who a brand feels aligns most with their image and appeals most to their clientele. However, we also advise our brands whether the celebrity is an up-and-comer/one-to-watch-out-for or intends to build a relationship with a stylist who might have a stellar roster.

Cullen Williams: When we first go onboard with a new designer or brand, we establish a list of target celebrities we believe would be interested in its design aesthetic as a way of reaching that brand’s target consumer. Each brand has its own look and feel, and each celebrity has her or his own style and jewellery preferences. We try to target celebrities (and their style teams) that are a good fit for our brand and the celebrity.

JNA: What should brands be willing to pay to embark on celebrity marketing?

D’Orazio: Costs vary depending on the brand and the services they are looking for. Services may include consulting, red carpet and editorials, among others. In terms of product, a brand should be able to provide 25 to 50 pieces to work with. Numbers vary according to necessity. For instance, awards seasons necessitate more product availability and brands need their pieces during jewellery trade shows.

Cullen Williams: It’s hard to give an exact number on what a brand must be willing to spend. If a brand wants to work with a PR agency, they will need to factor in monthly agency project fees, retainers as well as insurance, shipping product, and possibly pay-for-play and/or product-gifting budgets. Getting a celebrity to endorse a brand with a campaign can cost anything from US$100,000 to several millions.

JNA: How crucial is the role of celebrity marketing in the current luxury business landscape?

D’Orazio: Celebrity red carpet placement is an invaluable tool to help create brand awareness. The key is to stay consistent with it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Cullen Williams: My recommendation is for brands to research their target customers as well as their market competitors and then build a well-rounded, omni-channel marketing plan each year. The marketing plan initiatives should be defined yet flexible and adaptable to the evolving consumer and marketplace.


By Esther Ligthart

About the interviewees

Ginnina D’Orazio started her business D’Orazio & Associates in 2001 after recognising a gap in the market for fine jewellery celebrity placement. The company is based in Beverly Hills and New York and represents Borgioni, Butani, Djula, Gilan, Hearts on Fire, Le Vian and Mattia Cielo, among others.

Jen Cullen Williams is managing director of the Luxury Brand Group or LBG, which was founded in 2004. The company is based in Los Angeles, Orange County and New York and has a showroom in West Hollywood. It represents Ben Bridge Jeweler, Cirari, Gem-Water, JCK Las Vegas, Michael John Jewelry, Picchiotti, Silver Promotion Service, V Tse, VICENZAORO and more.

About the author

Founder of jewellery blog, Esther Ligthart has 25 years of international sales and marketing experience in the jewellery industry. She now enjoys contributing to trade and luxury magazines and working as a business consultant.