What do brands really look for in celebrities for positive product influence?

 What do brands really look for in celebrities for positive product influence?

From L: Singer Avril and actor Pascal Tokodi pose for photos with the Oppo Reno 3. The pair was among a group of ‘Influncers’ selected to promote the new iconic smartphone. IMAGE courtesy [TMZ Kenya]

SINCE the break out of the nightmarish Coronavirus pandemic early this year, it hasn’t been business as usual for many companies as far as product launching is concerned.

Nevertheless, some companies pushed on with their own plans as they struggled to adapted to ‘the new normal’.

One such company is Chinese Smartphone maker Oppo, which launched its latest series of the mid-range smartphone Oppo Reno 3 on April 15.

The brand unveiled its select group of influencers or rather brand ambassadors if you may, christened Oppo ‘O-Stars’, whose sole task is to push the new smartphone within the Kenyan market.

Singer Avril Nyambura, actors Pascal Tokodi, Martin Githinji, comedian Daniel Ndambuki alias Churchill, video director J Blessing and vlogger Maureen Waititu were selected to join the star-dusted cohort dubbed ‘O Stars’ for the Oppo Reno 3.

In the 21st century, Influencing has become a full time job for some online celebrities who have attracted social media clout.

But numbers isn’t the only thing that brands focus on, rather, it is the influence that these celebrities radiate onto their loyal audience. Brands view this as a critical asset for driving product sales.

Here are some other unique identifiers that brands look for when signing up influencers.


Oppo Kenya’s communications boss Ms Muthoni Wachira, says that her company selects influencers based on merit.

She says that influencers for each particular release are always picked based on how their own individual values rhyme with those of Oppo, and the objectives that the smartphone maker intends to achieve for any given product.

“We picked Avril and Pascal for Oppo Reno 3 because they have the knowledge of and appreciation for marketing an established online presence, they have a passion for building and growing Relationships as well as the ability to gather feedback and provide innovative Insight.” Muthoni noted.

“As for J blessing, he comes onboard as a Cinematographer expertise to offer consumers with video photography tips. Oppo’s latest generation is all about cameras. The Reno3 versatile camera setup is geared towards content creators, giving them all the tools they need to capture clear shots under any condition and make professional photos and videos on the go”.

Oppo Reno 3 Camera
Oppo Reno 3 Camera Features

“This is why we also got Maureen Waititu a content creator in the frame of a vlogger who presents the fashionable image master that is Reno3.” She added.

Last week when Samsung Kenya announced it had picked Nyashinski as its brand ambassador, Head of Mobile at the Smartphone Company in the country, Mr.  Charles Kimari noted that the singer had demonstrated similarity with the brand identity.

“Samsung is committed to deepening our partnership with local talent. In our eyes, Nyashinski has time and again personified our brand ethos- Do What You Can’t. Samsung is proud to be associated with him” Kimari said.

Loyalty is another factor that brands search for in celebrities for endorsement and engagements.

Taking personal responsibility and demonstrating enthusiasm for the product, perhaps by going out of their way to find out how the brand is performing in the market, is viewed favorably.

Loyalty to a brand is a return ticket for future endorsements. Avril is currently on her fourth endorsement deal with Oppo while Pascal is on the second.

In November 2017 gospel star Mercy Masika signed a one year endorsement deal with Ariel laundry detergent which was renewed for a further one year.

Celebrated actress Catherine Kamau Karanja alias Selina has been the face of the toilet bowl cleaner Harpic, for over five years.

In an interview last year, Selina explained to this writer that remaining loyal to a brand, also plays part in building one’s personal brand .

“For Harpic, I was wise enough to know not to be on every other brand because when you are everywhere you tend to water down your brand. I want to be known for a few brand and make some kind of impact.” Cate stated.


Brands seldom offer partnership deals to celebrities who court controversies or those who find themselves in unflattering situations.

It’s worth noting that some celebrities court controversies intentionally just for the clout or to remain relevant. Hurting their personal brand becomes a logical consequence. Top brands shy away from such characters.  

Otile Brown, Timmy T dat and Willy Paul are some of the usual suspects. Despite remaining relevant in the music scenes, they hardly land product endorsement deals. And even if they do, its mostly short lived – thanks to their endless taste for the spotlight no matter how unflattering.

Gospel singer Hopekid says that last year he lost a couple of endorsement deals thanks to a sex scandal.

“Many brands didn’t want to work with me, I lost a couple of endorsement deals that were in the pipeline then” Hopekid revealed.

Special Read: Re-branding an entire commercial bank is more than just knocking a name off a building, setting up brand colors and altering letterheads. Read how Absa bank pulled off one of Kenya’s most efficient brand transitions


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