There is no doubt that today more than ever brands are pushing their advertising across every media platform. With so much competition and investment, it is important for brands to build distinction and an emotional connection with consumers, making celebrity endorsement a new way for building brand awareness and loyalty.

Celebrities are playing an even greater role in global consumption patterns. Their endorsement and creative input enables them to bring attention, credibility and other intangible benefits to a brand in a way that no other type of advertising can. Many consumers believe that if a product is good enough for a star, it is good enough for them.

As a culture that spends much of our free time in front of the television, celebrity endorsements are paramount to a brand’s success — especially if properly executed.

The Middle East is quickly catching up with the trend of celebrity endorsement to influence consumers. One example was when Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways partnered Nicole Kidman and soon after we saw Jennifer Aniston’s deal with Emirates.

So the million-dollar question is how much influence do celebrity endorsements really have on our purchasing decisions. It’s true: Celebrity endorsements can reap huge rewards for a brand. Yet they have numerous pitfalls companies should consider before developing an endorsement programme. Many have learned the hard way that it becomes a reflection of themselves.

Such endorsements are successful when deeply rooted in a brand’s business objectives that clearly define how the relationship will be leveraged across key areas. Brands that develop an influencer programme that creates an engaging consumer experience that is less transactional and more pro-social will build deep loyalty.

We often hear brands complain of influencer programmes that don’t work. This is a direct result of a poor strategy developed by partner agencies or consultants that have recklessly advised them in the celebrity space. It is important for brands to explore cost-effective ways to work with celebrities. We recognise that some don’t have the level of expenditures required to contract a George Clooney or Balqees Fathi and welcome the opportunity on building an influencer programme based on current available budget.

What’s even more interesting is that we are seeing more influencer campaigns on digital platforms. This is common as most influencers, including bloggers, have colossal digital footprints, as do the majority of celebrities. This is not necessarily the least expensive solution; it is an option that crosses multiple touchpoints reaching a far greater audience versus just one media channel.

Budgets for celebrity and influencer engagements can can go as high as $10 million (Dh36.7 million). Pricing mainly depends on the brand’s deliverables and the social standing of the talent.

While research says that they can increase sales, there is little discussion about the relation between customer acquisition costs and their long-term value from celebrity endorsements. Brands need to ensure that they partner with the right celebrity that represents the target market and, more importantly, a properly mapped out strategy that is affordable and successful.

The five questions that every brand or agency should ask before partnering with celebrities or engaging an influencer programme:

1. How will the success of this relationship be measured?

2. How sustainable is the initiative we’re planning on activating?

3. Do we have clear and realistic objectives?

4. What are the things we are not willing to compromise on?

5. Do I have the expertise needed to create and manage a celebrity relationship?

Knowing who does what and why is an important part of assessing any potential match. For example, if the success of your campaign relies heavily on PR, it’s essential that whomever you engage is enthusiastic about this aspect of the relationship. Our job would be to review their PR history and advise our clients on how active and effective they’ve previously been in this area.

In addition, the activation territories, timelines and fees, can all weigh heavily on the initial discussion between the parties. We’ve seen previous cases where everything has aligned, aside from the production dates needed to get the campaign shot, or even the talent not being happy with the storyboard and the whole deal falling apart due to that.

Most of the time we’re presented with a set of brand deliverables, detailing exactly what’s needed and when. The majority of deliverables arrive with the request of no compromises. This very rarely happens, unless you’ve understood from the very beginning what the potential partner needs to make the relationship work, and even then most people tend to move the goal posts.

Providing that the necessary steps are followed, finding the new face for your brand should be a relatively smooth and pain-free process. We are strong believers that there’s someone for everyone. There are millions of ways to engage in a campaign as long as you’re willing to punch within your weight.

The most important thing to remember is you have to know what works best for your brand. Anything that doesn’t feel natural isn’t a good fit, and there’s no point in settling for something you know will not bring you both short- and long-term benefits.

The writer is CEO at The SMC Group.