Marketing to a target audience is difficult even in the best of conditions. Once you throw in falling store traffic and customers who are warded away by inflation, it becomes a herculean task. It is no surprise then that companies often turn to celebrities to boost brand awareness and bring in new customers. It is not a new practice either and in some cases these celebrity partnerships last for the long term; for example, actor Ving Rames who has been the voice of Arby’s since 2015. It seems now though that these partnerships have entered a new era and there are more than ever before. What has spurned on this turn of events, and will it bear fruit?

It is no secret that retailers and restaurants are looking for an edge. Inflation has caused price hikes and driven down consumer interest. Customers have been cutting down on luxury purchases and determining if their favorite brands are still worth it. Influencer partnerships can remind customers that a brand is still relevant and plugged into pop culture. There has been a major uptick in these partnerships recently and it seems like more brands are willing to commit to a spokesperson. Actors like Ben Affleck and musicians like Snoop Dogg have been targets for TV ads, yet we are also witnessing the importance of social media as companies turn to non-traditional stars for these endorsements. Baskin-Robbins recently collaborated with an Instagram influencer and other social media platforms like TikTok and Twitch have their own partnerships as well. With the mad dash to secure endorsement deals, the question of success remains.

It appears that most of these endorsements are hugely successful. If we look back at the partnership between McDonald’s and Travis Scott from several years ago, then we can trace the resurgence of this trend. When McDonald’s debuted a menu meal designed by the musician, customers flooded into stores to get it. It was the kind of lightning in a bottle viral marketing that many companies, including McDonald’s, has been chasing ever since. It’s fair to say that most of these partnerships don’t live up to such a high bar, yet they can still be lucrative for both parties. Retailers and restaurants are able to push new products or reinvent old ones by using a big name to confirm that both the product and the brand are bona fide.

We can expect these endorsement deals and partnerships to keep increasing in the future as companies attempt to boost their brand awareness. These alliances have also allowed companies to expand beyond traditional advertising and meet customers in other spaces that are perhaps more familiar and easier to access. Consumers have responded well, and it could help pull them out of the shell created by inflation. The financial investment and the public-facing nature of these celebrities creates an inherent risk, yet for most brands, being at the top of mind for consumers is more than worth it.