Issue #73—July 19, 2019
Perhaps you've heard the legendary rock band, the Rolling Stones, are touring North America right now. Maybe you've even seen them.
These guys are all in their 70s by now, and based on the video clips I've seen friends post on Facebook of Mick Jagger, he's still an incredibly energetic and tireless performer.
I wish I could say it was due to the vitamins I sent him a few decades ago. Unfortunately I can't. But I did try.
You see, it was about 25 years ago on a hot summer night that I last saw the Rolling Stones perform. Mick Jagger, of course, was his usual energetic self. (However, I do recall wondering if Keith Richards was going to make it through the concert.) A friend of mine had gotten tickets from her brother, who worked at a local radio station.
We were about 14 rows back---amazing seats, and they were free. We weren't quite THIS close, but we had a great view of the Mick and the band...
At the time I was working at Phillips Publishing and running their Healthy Directions supplement business that I had helped launch a year earlier. After seeing Mick Jagger perform with such energy (he was over 50, for crying out loud---which I perceived back then as OLD), I got a crazy idea the next morning when I was back in the office.
I thought it would be amazing publicity if we were able to get Mick to take Dr. Julian Whitaker's "Forward" 10-tablet-a-day multivitamin. Of course, I realized the probability of that happening was highly unlikely, but why not give it a shot?
I'd found out (via my friend's brother) which hotel the Stones were staying at in DC. So I typed up a letter on my desktop computer along the lines of...
"Dear Mr. Jagger,
I greatly enjoyed seeing you and your band perform last night at RFK Stadium. (etc etc)
Your energy and good health are amazing, and I'd like to offer you an opportunity to try a high-potency multivitamin to keep it that way. It was formulated by a top medical doctor, (yada yada yada...)"
There was more to it, of course. I wish I had the original letter!
In any case, I put my typed letter in a box along with a few bottles of the Forward multivitamin and my business card. Then I had it couriered down to Mick at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, DC.
I figured worse case, we were out about 25 bucks. But in the remote chance Mick decided to try the vitamins and like them, well, that could be worth millions in publicity!
Yes, I was a bit naive. Of course it wasn't that simple.
My team and I all excitedly waited for the courier delivery to go through. I phoned the facilities manager multiple times to check on its status. Finally, we got word the box had arrived at the Ritz-Carlton.
At first the hotel staff rejected the delivery, as (in typical DC fashion) they would neither confirm nor deny that the Stones were staying there. The delivery company tried again, perhaps hinting that it was something they were expecting.
Finally, the Stones' manager came out to the lobby. He picked up the box, shook it a few times, and then said, "No thanks, it might be drugs."
You would have thunk he worked for the FDA or something. And that was the end of my brilliant celebrity "free advertising" plan! (Hey, at least I tried...)
What star power can you add to your brand or promo?
Personally, if I was running a vitamin company I'd love to know what Mick is taking to bounce back so quickly from his heart surgery and stay so robustly healthy at age 75 today.
He probably wouldn't go for any kind of endorsement though. It's not like he needs the money.
However, you can "name drop" celebrities into your promotions and even use their images, since they're in the public domain. Obviously you have to be careful not to imply that they're endorsing your product (just like all those Dr. Oz rip-offs that ran for years online, which apparently his lawyers went after hard.)
Celebrity "star power" is one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs you can use in your promotions. Consumers are in love with celebrities. Heck, we even have a celebrity president. In my long-running "Live to 120" anti-aging supplement control, I name-drop and use pictures of Bob Hope, Doris Day, George Burns, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and others. Here's an excerpt that shows what I did...
And in another long-running anti-aging supplement control (which I didn't write) that's for a different product, the aura of Hollywood stars rushing to get in on a new breakthrough that until now has only been reserved for the rich and famous has worked like gangbusters. I wrote about this in my first issue of Copy Insiders in January 2018 (you can find it in my Complete Collection e-book here.)
So if your desired celebrity rejects the package you have couriered to their hotel, and you can't get anywhere (or come close to affording) the "star power" their direct endorsement can give your product, you can still "borrow" it for your promotion, as long as you're careful about doing so.
I've also done the same on multiple occasions to work in huge credibility boosters from respected institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and "the world-famous Mayo Clinic". Honestly I probably owe at least one-third of the royalties I've earned off supplement promotions to those 3 institutions alone (-;
You can not only drop in their name (assuming they're linked to a study in your copy), you can drop in their logos, pull quotes, etc. Again, your results may vary. Some of these institutions may catch whiff and want your client to stop using their name (this has happened to one of my clients in the past, not for my promo though).
And I've used this same strategy and seen it done countless times with financial promotions as well. Warren Buffett adds an instant celebrity and authority boost to just about any promotion...not just financial, but hybrid publications like Bottom Line Personal.
For at least the 8 past years, Buffett has played a major role on the company formerly known as Boardroom's flagship newsletter's control promotion---first when it was held by Parris Lampropoulus, and more recently in Richard Armstrong's new control promo (I reviewed this in my January 25, 2019 issue of Copy Insiders. You can find it here.)
Hope this week's issue gave you some ideas on how to get a nice response boost in your promos by adding a dose of celebrity power. Stay cool this weekend if you're in the 100-degree-plus zone in the U.S. And if you can get your hands on some tickets to see the Stones on their latest tour, you really should do so while you still can.
Of course, if Mick, and Keith Richards for that matter, keep doing whatever they're doing, I expect to see them rockin' well into their eighties! Just wish I could take credit for it with the vitamins I sent over.
Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. If you want to hang out with the "rock stars" of copywriting and learn from the best, then you'll want to grab your ticket right now to this year's Copy Chief Live event. It's happening October 28-30 in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida. I've been to both of the previous events (and will likely be at this one, too) and I can attest it's always a great group of speakers, copywriters, and potential clients. The price goes up by $400 as of July 29th, so you'll want to act now to save the most. Hope to see you there!